A NYS Appellate Court clears the way for referendum on Police Accountability Board

Oct 17, 2019

A New York State Appellate Court has ruled that the proposal for a Police Accountability Board in Rochester can be voted on in November.

The ruling came down Thursday, reversing State Supreme Court Justice John Ark's preliminary injunction in September which said a court would need a chance to more thoroughly review that legislation.

In May, City Council unanimously approved the law that would create the board, but the police union, the Locust Club, filed a lawsuit to block it. The union argued that putting the power to enact an accountability board in the hands of voters and eliminating the chief’s authority to discipline officers violates state and federal law and runs afoul of the city’s collective bargaining agreement with police.

In its ruling on Thursday, the New York State Appellate Court said that the police union “failed to establish that they would suffer irreparable injury if the referendum were permitted to proceed.”

The court also said that the “substantive merits of the local law are not before us and that our determination does not bar a subsequent action in the event that the referendum is approved by the voters.”

Rochester City Council President Loretta Scott issued this statement:

"The City Council is grateful for the speed with which the Court has issued their decision allowing for the Rochester electorate to vote on the Police Accountability Board Referendum this coming Election Day.  Today’s unanimous decision is a victory for democracy, no one’s voice should be silenced on this important issue."