Created: September 10, 2019 06:30 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester Police Locust Club has filed a lawsuit against the City of Rochester over a referendum scheduled to appear on the November ballot.
The referendum would give the city the green light to create and empower a police accountability board made up of local citizens.
The Rochester police union says it had no choice but to go to court.
"Unfortunately, you can only get to a point where you have to take something forward into court, and that's where we are at this point," said Mike Mazzeo.
Mazzeo is the president of the Rochester Police Locust Club. He says this lawsuit is about due process, something that is the right of every American citizen.
"We have to protect the rights of our members as well as, we believe, the rights of the community that are going to be affected by the changes," he said.
The lawsuit claims that Local Law #2, which creates the accountability board, is invalid by "removing the authority of the police chief to discipline officers and by altering the hearing procedure through a means other than a collective bargaining agreement."
The union takes issues with the board's ability to discipline and its ability to determine what that discipline would be.
"We have allowed the police department to pretty much police itself," said Pastor Wanda Wilson, a member of the Police Accountability Board Alliance. "What we are asking for is a change."
The Police Accountability Board Alliance has worked with the city to help determine who would be on the board and what its responsibility and mission would be. Wilson says she's confident the city will prevail and this will make it to the voters in November.
"We just see that what the Locust Club is doing is a tactic, a tactic to prohibit a citizen led accountability board that would allow the citizens of Rochester to be able to discipline police officers."
News10NBC reached out to the City of Rochester. City leaders declined, saying they don't comment on pending litigation.
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