Judge rules Rochester Police Accountability Board cannot discipline officers

Updated: May 07, 2020 05:17 PM
Created: May 07, 2020 04:36 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A Supreme Court Justice issued a ruling Thursday that Rochester’s Police Accountability Board can not legally discipline officers.

The decision by Hon. John Ark states that under New York State Law, disciplinary hearings and actions can only be conducted by the Mayor or her appointee, the Police Chief.

The ruling does not prevent eh board from meeting, or dissolve it, but it does prevent from calling for a disciplinary hearing or disciplining officers.

City Council President Loretta Scott released the following statement:

“Last November Rochesterians went to the polls, and 3 out of every 4 voters made the choice to approve a referendum that would establish a transparent and accessible Police Accountability Board. They voted to give this Board the power to investigate complaints, to subpoena information, and to set minimum discipline by establishing a disciplinary matrix, formed with input from the Chief of Police and Locust Club. The Court’s decision negates the will of the citizens of Rochester, and the City Council stands ready to appeal Judge Ark’s ruling to the higher courts. We must operate within the context of our legal system, but the City Council is ready to defend the will of our citizens, and this decision is not the final say.”

The Rochester Police Locust Club, who sued to prevent the PAB from being able to discipline officers, released a statement that says, in part:

"From the start, our union attempted to show City Council that their legislation, which they brought forward in a referendum was in violation of the law. The opinion of the City’s own law department also agreed with that. 

The decision of the court allows City Council to correct the legislation that violates law. Our fight against the legislation from the start was not about stopping accountability, it was about protecting unionized workers from illegal legislation.

For City Council to simply disrespect the decision of the court is dismissing the long fight and sacrifices that labor fought in this state to ensure that fairness and protections are in place for those who serve their communities.”

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