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Rochester Police Accountability Board ready to push back on decision stripping disciplinary power

Andrew Hyman
Created: May 07, 2020 11:40 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester’s Police Accountability Board is ready to push back after its key power was blocked by the State Supreme Court.

A ruling handed down Thursday states the board cannot legally discipline police officers because it violates New York State law.

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City Council President, and PAB advocate Loretta Scott says the decision violates ‘the will of the public’ who helped vote to approve the board’s creation late last year.

“This decision is not the final say," Scott said.

In a Zoom call with the media on Thursday night, Scott announced the board will take its appeal to a higher court, the same court which reversed a previous injunction to prevent last year’s referendum vote. 

Andrew Celli, the lawyer representing City Council said the board will argue against a 1985 ruling, which handed power to the mayor, and her appointee, in this case, the police chief.  

Scott says the board can exist without the power to discipline a police officer, but, discipline is one of the board's main responsibilities, which is why they're fighting back.

"This is not something that came about in short order," Scott said.

Though, it's not just the judge standing in the way of the board, the Rochester Police Locust Club, the union representing the police, continues to be against the idea, as it sued the board to stop it from being able to handle punishment. President Mike Mazzeo maintains he supports the idea of making changes to hold police, and the city accountable, but it has to be within the law. 

"I would think that the right thing to do, and to be accountable to the public is to really get opinions from your attorneys, from other legal experts," Mazzeo said.

The judge in this case, welcomed the idea of both the union and the PAB working together to make these changes, something, which Mazzeo says, he's open to.

"But it takes both sides listening to each other,” Mazzeo said. “Not one side just demanding and refusing to hear concerns, and simply wanting what they believe is right to go forward."

While they'll continue to fight for the power, Scott, too, said she’s opened to working with the locust club.


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