Rochester PAB demands more autonomy from city council

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A group, formed within the city to oversee police misconduct, is now saying the city is holding them back. Back in 2019, Rochesterians voted to create the Police Accountability Board (PAB).

The PAB is tasked with holding police officers accountable for their actions amid growing concern about any wrongdoing. Today, the organization says it has tried to seek independence from the city council but is running into many obstacles.

“The city is now asking us to give away the one thing we cannot compromise on – the very thing that the city promised its voters two years go, and that’s the PAB’s independence,” said Shani Wilson, chair of the Police Accountability Board.

Members of the PAB are speaking out today against the governing body that once helped create them.

“To make it extremely clear, city council has prevented us from posting jobs to fill positions we need to make it possible to do the work that the Rochester community has voted for,” said Danielle Tucker, Police Accountability Board Vice-Chair.

For the past several weeks, PAB says city council has refused to let the organization operate independently on critical decisions, such as hiring staff to help with the board’s investigations. Before publicly speaking out, PAB’s attorney, Shearman & Sterling LLP, sent correspondence to the city asking it to follow the law and stop interfering with the Board’s work, to which the group says there has not been a response.

“This new plan fits into a longstanding pattern of behavior from the city that works to undermine our ability to operate independently,” Wilson said.

Now the PAB is launching a public campaign to bring the community together to protect the organization’s independence while calling on the council to respect the agency.

"We’re asking you to stand with us. Remind your city council members of what your community voted for: police accountability that truly holds Rochester Police Department accountable," Tucker said.

News10NBC tried reaching out for comment from city council president Loretta Scott, or the city council itself but has yet to hear back.

PAB’s attorneys are continuing to explore all legal options.

The group also states it will soon be launching an online job portal to maintain forward progress.