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Police Accountability Board Alliance speaks out against Mayor's board proposal

Jan 8, 2019

Ted Forsyth and Pastor Wanda Wilson
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Members of the Rochester Police Accountability Board Alliance spoke out Tuesday against Mayor Lovely Warren's recent proposal for an oversight board.

The alliance, which is a community activist group, has been working with City Council the last four months to develop a police accountability board for the Rochester Police Department. 

But members of the alliance, like Ted Forsyth, say the proposal released by Warren right after Christmas is "not enough."

"Overall, the Mayor’s proposal is underpowered, underfunded and underhanded attempt to undermine the demands of the community," Forsythe said.

As a group, the alliance is calling on city council to reject the mayor’s proposal and pass the legislation negotiated by the alliance and city council.

He says how the board and department would handle discipline of police is their main concern and that the mayor’s proposal limits the PAB’s power to review practices and procedures and doesn’t give enough disciplinary power to the community

Pastor Wanda Wilson is another member of the alliance.

"We expected more. A more powerful board. If she were going to propose legislation, at least have a board that would really have teeth to administer the discipline piece that we are asking for," said Wilson

The alliance says the mayor's proposal severely limits their power and focuses too much on only excessive use of force allegations, but they say they will continue to work with City Council on creating a board that works for both parties.

Alliance members plan to attend the next City Council public safety committee meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at City Hall to discuss the proposal, and they welcome the public to join them.

Mayor Lovely Warren's responded with a statement:

The City Administration's proposal will create a Police Accountability Board that is legally permissible under the laws of the State of New York. Other proposals that have been suggested would not withstand legal challenge. As proposed by the Administration, the Police Accountability Board would have unprecedented authority - including subpoena power to compel testimony and the production of evidence - to investigate complaints as well as work toward better policies related to the use of force. I am looking forward to working with City Council and community stakeholders to develop a legally permissible Police Accountability Board that will improve public safety by improving the public's trust and creating a fully transparent investigative process that's fair to both the community and the officers.