A memo took center stage during the confirmation hearing for the first leader of Rochester’s Police Accountability Board.
The ten-page document was written by Conor Dwyer Reynolds early this week. The Police Accountability board wants him to be its first Executive Director.
During Dwyer Reynolds’ confirmation hearing Thursday, Councilmember Michael Patterson read from the memo. It said that Dwyer Reynolds’ understanding of the city’s laws means the board should be treated as a “wholly independent entity” within city government, instead of subordinate to council. The memo also cited many other changes Dwyer Reynolds wanted.
“Part of the reason I wrote this memo is to have a discussion about how to protect the board in tools under the law,” said Dwyer Reynolds.
“This organizational level of independence is an important power, if this board is going to be a national model for police oversight.”
Patterson strongly disagreed with those ideas.
“Your memo, as written, seems to assert powers that, I as a member of council, never recall voting for,” said Patterson.
Council President Loretta Scott, and Councilmembers Malik Evans and Mitch Gruber also expressed concerns about the document.
Evans asked Dwyer Reynolds whether “this is a hill you want to die on.” Evans also did not like his request for more control over the PAB’s budget as the city deals with its own budget crunch.
Gruber questioned Dwyer Reynolds’ priorities in a time when powers of the board are already in question. Council is appealing a ruling from earlier this year which voids the board’s ability to dole out punishments to Rochester Police Department officers it deems guilty of misconduct.
Dwyer Reynolds backpedaled during the meeting saying he wanted more control over what the board can purchase and its timecards. He said he was trying to start a conversation.
Scott said his explanation contradicted his memo and that his actions are revealing.
“I think you can gather that we have some deep concerns about the content of the memo,” said Scott. “The struggle becomes, it’s the saying, ‘when somebody tells you who they are, believe them.’ So it's just, we just kinda gotta work through it.”
Council is expected to vote on Dwyer Reynolds’ appointment Tuesday.