police accountability

We sit down with members of the Rochester Police Accountability Board. Rochestarians approved the PAB referendum in November with 75 percent of the vote. In January, City Council approved the board’s nine members. The PAB is tasked with investigating complaints of misconduct made against Rochester police officers. Board members aren’t meeting in person during the pandemic, but they are working on independent research – this, amid conversations about police-community relations and defunding the police.

This hour, we talk to board members about their roles and work, about legal issues surrounding the PAB, and more. Our guests:

  • Shani Wilson, chair of the PAB, activist, and physician assistant who specializes in internal medicine 
  • Celia McIntosh, DNP, RN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, vice chair of the PAB, and nurse practitioner
  • Ida Pérez, member of the PAB, chair of the Scrantom Street Block Club, and director of of Ibero early childhood services
  • Rabbi Drorah Setel, J.D., member of the PAB, and Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El

James Brown / WXXI News

Rev. Lewis Stewart and the United Christian Leadership Ministry were joined by more than a dozen community leaders for a solutions-focused discussion on police reform and community relations Thursday night. Roughly 50 people were on hand for the discussion at First Church of God on Clarissa Street.

The forum included members of law enforcement such as Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, activists from Rochester’s local Black Lives Matter movement, Rochester City Council and others.

We’re joined by members of the United Christian Leadership Ministry to discuss police reform in America. The ministry was founded in 2010; since then, members have advocated for police accountability and policies regarding body worn cameras. Our guests share their perspectives on Rochester City Council’s recent budget vote as it relates to defunding police, and their priorities and recommendations for police reform both locally and nationally. Our guests:

  • Reverend Lewis Stewart, president of United Christian Leadership Ministry
  • Alex White, co-chair of the United Christian Leadership Ministry Community Justice Advisory Board
  • Kerry Coleman, chair of community police relations of United Christian Leadership Ministry

Last week, Rochester City Council passed the city budget, and the subject of defunding police was a hot button issue. We're joined by members of Council who discuss their votes and their perspectives on the best ways to address police reform from a government level.

Our guests:

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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Law enforcement officers in New York will now be required to report when they discharge their weapon on the job and provide medical and mental health care to individuals in their custody under a pair of bills signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A third law will require the state to track demographic data on arrest-related deaths and low-level offenses, including misdemeanors and violations.

Irshad Altheimer is a professor of criminal justice who has been directly affected by gun violence. In 1997, a gang member opened fire on a car he was riding in with friends. Altheimer was struck by three bullets, and one of this friends was killed. Altheimer has dedicated his career to researching and addressing the roots of urban violence, and to reducing gun violence in Rochester.

He joins us to discuss his work with local law enforcement, his perspectives on police reform, and the recent BLM protests. Our guest:

  • Irshad Altheimer, associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, and director of the Center for Public Safety Initiatives at RIT

Marvin Stepherson spent 25 years in policing, retiring as a police sergeant. He has become a prominent black voice in the Greater Rochester community, teaching, organizing, getting involved in politics.

Stepherson sees the challenge in recruiting more black officers to policing; he also knows that police demographics won't solve all of the existing problems. He joins us to discuss how policing could change to meet this moment of crisis.

Our guest:

  • Marvin Stepherson, retired police sergeant, and adjunct professor for criminal justice administration at Roberts Wesleyan College

We're joined by the president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, who discusses the events of the weekend, and his thoughts on proposed changes for policing.

Our guest:

Saturday's peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Rochester included hundreds of people who gathered to march in solidarity with the BLM movement nationwide. Local organizers are calling for several reforms: a divestment from police, the removal of police from Rochester City Schools, an end to mass incarceration, and more.

This hour, we talk to two of the organizers about the events of the weekend and their goals for the movement in the weeks and months ahead. Our guests:

  • Stanley Martin, civil rights organizer
  • Ashley Gantt, civil rights organizer
  • Stevie Vargas, civil rights organizer
  • Iman Abid, civil rights organizer