PAB report shows hundreds of complaints, four board reviews, zero complaints sustained

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Police Accountability Board got hundreds of complaints in its first year. But it only finished, and the board only reviewed four investigations. In every case, the PAB board decided there wasn’t enough proof to say a Rochester police officer acted badly.

There is nuance here. The board did not sustain any allegations against the police officers. But they didn’t exonerate the cops either and that is an option.

Read the report here:

When I talked to Interim PAB Executive Director Sherry Walker-Cowart, I said people will be drawn to page 12 of the PAB’s report.

“Which shows that the board did not sustain any of the cases brought to the board,” I said. “What does that tell you?”

“That just tells me that that was all that came up in those particular investigations,” Walker-Cowart said.

Brean: “The report does show that not a single police officer was found to be in misconduct with the way he or she was performing the job.”

Walker-Cowart: “Of those four reports, it indicates there was not enough evidence to prove or disprove any misconduct. It does not reflect all of the investigations we’re still working on.”

From June 2022 to June 2023, the PAB got 277 complaints against police. The PAB’s report shows most of them went nowhere because they couldn’t investigate or didn’t have the jurisdiction. That could mean the complaint was against a sheriff’s deputy, state trooper or officer from the suburbs.

Brean: “You’re running the thing. But I’ll still ask the questions: Is the PAB doing what it’s designed to do?”

Walker-Cowart: “I think that’s a great question. I think we are doing what the PAB is designed to do unfortunately not as quickly and not as fully as we’d like.”

Keep this in mind.

When Walker-Cowart took over the PAB, it was dealing with serious, internal allegations of harassment and abuse, and the exodus of several board members, and it was still trying to work out their procedures.
That’s why Walker-Cowart thinks the system will work faster this year.

The PAB has 237 outstanding cases, however, like the complaints it got in the first 12 months, the PAB does not believe all of them will turn into investigations.