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Activists cite problems over police accountability proposal

September 17, 2018 07:25 PM

It looks like Rochester is getting closer to establishing a board that would oversee complaints against the Rochester Police Department.

The Rochester City Council released a draft of what it thinks would work, but the community group working with the council says it doesn't go far enough. 

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The city council president says the council met with the police union, the Center for Dispute Settlement and it will meet again with the Police Accountability Board Alliance. 

"It's not fair that people can come to your house and beat you up, or on the street or asking you for some identification and if you don't respond, they can beat you up," said Phyllis Harmon of Rochester.

Five years ago, Phyllis Harmon says she was beaten in her home by a then Rochester Police sergeant and an officer. 

She says there was no reason for the beating. 

The officers were there to take a report about some stolen items, but somehow managed to get inside her home before she arrived. 

She says the beating started when she questioned why they were in her house. 

Harmon says she sustained numerous injuries that give her trouble to this day. 

A federal judge dismissed claims against the city, but ruled Harmon has enough evidence to pursue a trial of the officers for excessive force.

"I should be enjoying being retired...my days consist of doctor's appointments and surgeries," said Harmon.

The Police Accountability Board Alliance says the city council's draft proposal lacks five essential pillars that will help people like Harmon. 

It wants to be an agency, independent of the city, with the power to conduct independent investigations and to subpoena witnesses and evidence.

It also wants the board to have the power to recommend discipline that's binding, and the power to review and evaluate the RPD's patterns, practices and procedures.

City Council President Loretta Scott says the alliance has only a draft proposal, not the formal legislation.

"We actually were looking forward to having the opportunity to sit with them and work out the differences. We know what the five pillars are...we've been looking at this for months. Simply because it's not framed in the way that they have stated them doesn't mean it's the only way it can be achieved," Scott said.

Scott says the two sides have a meeting scheduled for Friday. She says she hopes they can iron out the differences. 

The alliance is encouraging those to voice their opinion at the city council meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
 

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Lynette Adams

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