Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary sat down with the city’s Police Accountability Board for the first time Thursday. That independent board was approved by voters last year to provide oversight for the department and investigate police misconduct claims.
Among the topics that came up were transparency, the internal culture of policing and calls to defund the Rochester police department. Singletary said he’s against it.
“When you invest in them, that’s what keeps departments off the front pages and headlines and article,” said Singletary. “So I’m not for defunding the police, I’m about reform, and sitting down at the table to see if we can provide a better quality of service for our public. “
Singletary asked the board to not compare Rochester Police to other departments. He said they have different standards and histories.
Singetary said he worries if his officers are trained to handle every situation they’re put in because he said police are asked to do a lot.
“Due to other entities receiving cuts beyond the control of the local municipality that they’re in. to include mental health services, social services, education, and when those cuts happen, there are real consequences and they often end up in the laps of police departments,” said Singletary.
Singletary was pressed on whether the board should be able to investigate, determine the guilt of, and discipline officers accused of misconduct. Judge John Ark ruled earlier this year that those things can't happen because it violates local and state law as well as union contracts.
When Singletary was asked whether he supports handing over police disciplinary power to the board, he said the leader of the department should have the power.
“I think for any CEO to have the ability to enact change, whether you’re the CEO who is overseeing a law enforcement agency, or the CEO of the fortune 500 company, or small business, I think the CEO must have the authority along with the responsibility to enact that change,” said Singletary.
City Council disagrees. Council members are strongly in support of civilians doling out punishment for officers. They plan to appeal Ark’s ruling this summer.