Community groups react to Police Accountability Board draft legislation

Sep 18, 2018

Pastor Wanda Wilson and members of the Religious Leader Caucus of ROC ACTS
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Some community members are criticizing a draft of the police accountability board from Rochester City Council.

The Police Accountability Board Alliance and The Religious Leader Caucus of the Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society or ROC ACTS are two groups who have spoken out against certain parts of the draft legislation.

Pastor Wanda Wilson is a member of both those groups.

"The draft severely weakens the PABs investigative power, and allows the Rochester Police Department to interview all witnesses prior the PAB, even if the witness was assaulted by an officer."

Specific issues with the draft include Rochester Police Department members serving on the board, allowing the RPD to interview witnesses prior to the accountability board and not giving community members adequate representation on the board.

"The council's draft calls for a nine-member board with two appointments from the mayor, four appointments from the City Council and three appointments from the community. The alliance calls for an eleven member board with one appointment from the mayor, four appointments from city council, and six appointments from the community."

Reverend James Simmons is the chair of the Religious Leaders Caucus and says a police accountability board is essential to repairing tattered relationships between police and community, but it must be done right.

City Council President Loretta Scott responded to the backlash saying that this is just a draft, and that they are open to community input.

"I still look forward to being able to discuss with them a path forward for getting legislation or an accountability mechanism that is effective."

She says City Council plans to submit legislation in the October cycle, with the intention of holding it in committee for a period of time to allow for public comment.

Members of the PAB Alliance are attending the city council meeting Tuesday Sept 18th at 630 pm to voice their concerns.