Police Accountability Board pushing for more independence from City Council

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Earlier this week, the Police Accountability Board (PAB), a group formed and funded by the city council to investigate actions of police misconduct, demanded that they have more independence… from the council. The big debate seems to come down to this: Whether the PAB is independent of, or serves at the discretion of, city council.

“Three weeks ago, the city informed us that moving forward the PAB would not be able to hire its own staff. Instead, the PAB would merely nominate candidates to work at the PAB while city council would decide who to hire and what salaries those staff would make,” said Police Accountability Board Chair Shani Wilson.

Frustration is growing amongst members of the organization, as they say the city council is stripping them of their powers, which goes against the city charter.

“The city also told us that in this new process, the Board — the nine community members that represent the city — would not be ultimately responsible for supervising the PAB staff. Instead, the president of city council would have the power to control and fire our staff,” Wilson said.

Thursday, two days after we reached out, City Council President Loretta Scott eventually issued a statement. She would not comment on the legalities of the issue until the city’s deputy corporation counsel issues a formal response.

While pledging her support, Scott went on to say, "the referendum creating the Police Accountability Board was approved by Rochesterians in Nov. 2019, and to this day, the PAB has not investigated a single citizen complaint."

Councilmember Mary Lupien said the PAB needs to hire staff to start reviewing what she says is a backlog of complaints.

“It really is important to have the body be able to do their work which they haven’t been able to get started yet,” Lupien said.

“You always have to work together, and that’s what you have going on here. I can attest to the fact that the council president has been very supportive of the PAB and their work, pushing to get the things that they need done,” Mayor Warren said.

The mayor believes under law, the Police Accountability Board reports to the council. Meantime, the PAB’s lawyers are still waiting for a formal response from the city’s corporation counsel.