PAB town hall raises concerns over report of RPD violence against minors

PAB discusses report on RPD use of force on minors

PAB discusses report on RPD use of force on minors

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Teens filled the audience of the Police Accountability Board Thursday night. They were there to discuss the PAB’s recently released report on the RPD’s use of force against minors. 

Their first topic: racial biases. While 80% of violent incidents involved Black boys, 2022 census data shows that at most 45% of Rochester is Black.

“They are very aware that they believe that Black people are more dangerous, are inherently criminal, that they need to be treated a certain way, that is very conscious,” panelist Candice Lucas said in a conversation on implicit bias.

Another big topic was the need for mental health training. One in three reports of violence were for a police response to a mental health call. Panelists and audience members said they wanted more training for officers. Nearly everyone who spoke said they don’t feel like officers care about or know the communities they serve. 

“They don’t care about the community in the same way that me, you know growing up on the east side for most of my life, care about that community,” panelist Shanterra Mitchum said. “Wholly invested in that community and wanting to see something different for my people. And so — I can teach you skill but I cannot teach you will.”

That perceived lack of will was a sticking point for panelists and audience members alike. 

“They’re afraid of cops,” teen panelist Lianny Rodriguez said about her peers. “But if a cop were to walk up to one of them or try to create a bond with them or step into their comfort space where they feel comfortable, they’ll see that we’re not bad kids, we’re not — we’re just people who need help.”

As problems and solutions were tossed out, one big concern remained. 

“A lot of people was wondering why the police wasn’t actually here so they can hear the ideas,” 14-year-old attendee Mekka Shareef said. 

“I will be thinking about the fact that they weren’t here tonight,” 15-year-old attendee Airen Wilson said. “The police weren’t here. If we’re having this board to hold police accountable, why are you not here?”

The PAB cannot actually discipline the RPD. News10NBC reached out to RPD to see if a representative would attend. A spokesperson told us our email was the first they’d heard of the town hall, and they hadn’t been invited. PAB organizers provided News10NBC with the email they’d sent to an officer weeks ago, inviting him to be on the panel. They said they never got a response.

The RPD has previously said that in the time frame the PAB studied, the 318 incidents of violence against minors represent less than .001% of calls.