police accountability

James Brown WXXI

The city of Rochester is likely headed back to court. The police union is suing the city to stop a public vote on who will discipline police officers. 

Rochester Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo says the new police accountability board goes too far.


Tuesday night was a milestone in a decades-long fight over how police misconduct claims in Rochester should be handled. Rochester City Council passed a new law creating an independent police accountability board. The vote was unanimous. The board would handle police misconduct claims. Council President Loretta Scott called the vote "momentous."


Rochester City Council is considering amendments to the proposed legislation for a Police Accountability Board.

One of the changes to earlier legislation for that oversight board has to do with the makeup of the PAB.

Council’s original proposal barred former law enforcement officers from being on the panel. The amendment would allow up to one member of the board to have a background in law enforcement, as long as three or more years have elapsed since their employment. But anyone who had worked for the RPD would still not be able to be on the board.

James Brown / WXXI News

Dozens of people crowded Rochester City Council chambers on Tuesday night. They spoke for and against the proposed independent police accountability board.

City Council introduced its version of the board back in January. Rochester Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo is against that proposal as it stands now, and says that Council should restart the process.

Police accountability has been a subject of conversation in the Rochester community for several decades, with one of the main questions being, ‘should law enforcement have a role in deciding how police officers are disciplined?’

In recent weeks, City Hall and City Council have released proposals for police accountability boards. In our first of several upcoming conversations on this subject, we sit down with members of City Council, who discuss their draft legislation and their priorities. We also hear from members of the Police Accountability Board Alliance. In studio:

James Brown WXXI

During their first opportunity to weigh in on City Council’s proposed Police Accountability Board, residents on Wednesday night had both criticism and praise.

The controversial board would have independent oversight of misconduct claims against the Rochester Police Department. For decades, activists have been pushing for an independent civilian board with broad authority, but city officials have never been willing to go this far. 

This week the Rochester Police Department admitted that two officers roughed up a black man without justification. It comes at a time when police accountability is a significant topic of debate: how to reform the system and make sure it leads to justice?

Our guests discuss it:

Local activists, members of the faith community, and law enforcement officers are working together to improve police-community relations in the Greater Rochester area. Last weekend, the fourth annual Police Relations Summit covered a range of issues, including police use of force, body cameras, plea bargaining, implicit bias and more.

We sit down with leaders who attended the summit to discuss what they learned and what they hope to accomplish. In studio:

We sit down with Frank Liberti and Cheryl Hayward from the Center for Dispute Settlement, focusing on police accountability in Rochester. The CDS currently evaluates cases that stem from civilian complaints. A recent report from local activists alleges that the system is broken, and that civilian complaints are almost never sustained. CDS disagrees; however, CDS has made its own recommendations for how to improve the system. Our guests explain:

  • Frank Liberti, president and CEO of the Center for Dispute Settlement
  • Cheryl Hayward, director of the Police and Community Relations Program at the Center for Dispute Settlement

A new report takes a look at how police accountability works or doesn't work in Rochester. The report is called "The Case for an Independent Police Accountability System." It was written by Barbara Lacker-Ware and Theodore Forsyth. 

The report looks at years of data regarding how police handle civilian complaints regarding allegations of brutality and misconduct. The report found that from 2002 to 2015, only two percent of civilian complaints of unnecessary force were sustained by the Chief of Police, and only five percent were sustained by the Civilian Review Board.

Lacker-Ware and Forsyth say there is a breakdown in the system, but critics say their report pushes too hard, and misunderstandings need to be addressed.

Lacker-Ware and Forsyth join us in studio to break down the report and its recommendations.