PAB votes to terminate Conor Dwyer Reynolds

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Despite a show of staff support, he’s out. In a vote of 5-1, the Rochester Police Accountability Board fired its suspended executive director Conor Dwyer Reynolds.

Board member Robert Harisson voted in opposition. Board members Rabbi Drorah Setel and Reverand Matthew Nickoloff recused themselves from the vote.

While we were inside Thursday’s meeting you could tell there was tension in the room. Here is what happened in the meeting just hours before this decision.

 As the board went into executive session Thursday night, PAB Deputy Chief of Accountability Inspections Will Cleveland spoke up.

“On behalf of the staff and union, please listen to our concerns,” he said. “Please listen to us. We need you to move forward. We need you please. We’ve uprooted our lives to make this work. We need you guys to do something, please.”

Staff members who want to unionize say the investigation report into Dwyer Reynolds highlighted and supported issues they see and want fixed. They think some other suspended staff members were given a “slap on the wrist” compared to Dwyer Reynolds.

“Not being recommended for termination for clear incompetence just as the person who created a toxic work environment was not being recommended for termination despite violating city policies,” PAB Deputy Chief of investigations De’Jon Hall said. “The only person recommended for termination was Conor, and that was for failure to respond to the city’s FOIL requests as well as a misreading of the tuition assistance program.”

The report recommends that Dwyer Reynolds be terminated. But as of right now, he is still suspended. The PAB board will evaluate his employment status and make a determination.

“Instead of recommending the same sort of grace, extended to the other employees, they called for his immediate termination,” Hall said. “It doesn’t seem like we’ve been given a fair chance, and Conor himself hasn’t been given a fair chance either.”

During Thursday’s meeting, PAB Chair Larry Knox addressed the whirlwind of issues the board has been facing.

“There is a lot going on right now, in regards to the PAB, outside in the community and outside the office,” Knox said. “No one here is blind to that.”

This is all on the heels of another hurdle. According to staff members, all the attorneys have quit.

“By the end of next week the investigations division will have zero attorneys, effectively gutted, by our legal representatives,” Hall added.

A second vote was also held to find an interim executive director from outside the agency to replace acting manager Dwaine Bascoe by a vote of 7-0.

PAB Chair Larry Knox released a statement saying:

“After discussing the results of the third-party investigation, board members voted to remove Mr. Dwyer-Reynolds as Executive Director of the Police Accountability Board. The agency is committed to implementing the recommended changes outlined in the report in order to strengthen the agency. Out of respect for those involved in the investigation, we will not be commenting further on the specific statements or details that were published. Our sincere hope is that we can begin to move forward and continue the work that the people of Rochester have asked of us. Tomorrow the board will initiate its transitional plan to find an Interim Executive Director from outside the agency, at which time Duwaine Bascoe’s term as Acting Manager will end. We will also begin our search for a permanent Executive Director.”