PAB seeks input on proposal covering how police interact with public

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester Police Accountability Board is sharing more information about “Right to Know” legislation it has drafted, which would set guidelines on how police identify themselves. Monday night, it was taking public input.

The PAB says this proposal for change is a community- and data-driven process, where the PAB makes formal recommendations to change policies and practices that impact the Rochester Police Department, and also empowers the community.

The president of the Locust Club, the police union, says he believes the community has bigger concerns.

Monday’s online presentation was given by Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

One of the things PAB is proposing is that officers disclose their identity, one way — through business cards that include rank and badge number and commanding officer.

A handful of community members provided their input.

PAB Press Officer Vanessa J. Cheeks says the Right to Know proposal would make three primary changes to some rules and practices of the Rochester Police Department.

“It covers consented searches, and how officers ask permission for consented searches, and how they inform people of their rights before they search. It also includes data collection and how police collect demographic data during stops,” Cheeks said.

Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, says he is open to having a discussion with the PAB. However, he said, “Quite frankly, right now at this point in time, the priorities in this city have got to be crime and the concerns our citizens have on safety.”

“To then talk about legislation right now, which when you look at it could have a chilling effect on police officers and citizens, and I don’t think that is something that we need right now,” Mazzeo also said.

Roxanna Siaca says safety and the identity of an officer are matters concerning to her.

“Would that be standard protocol — ‘Yes, I am Officer So and So — that sets the tone for the rest of the conversation to not be threatening,” Siaca asked.

This Right to Know proposal also sets guidelines on body camera footage and the use of non-threatening language, and analyzes police searches by gender and race.

The proposal’s guidelines on police interactions with people were modeled after similar laws in New York City, Buffalo and Syracuse, as well as racial profiling laws in Connecticut and California.

The PAB is holding another public input session, in person for the Latino community, on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at 821 N. Clinton Ave.

The deadline for public input on the Right to Know proposal is Friday, Aug. 17, by 11:59 p.m. through the PAB website.