Rochester, N.Y. – Rochester City Council is finalizing the city’s new Police Accountability Board and expects to announce the full board this week.
Rochester voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of a referendum last November which called for the formation of the board. Nearly 17,800 voters approved the measure, while nearly 6,600 voters voted against it.
The board will be comprised of nine members: four members recommended by the Police Accountability Board Alliance, one appointed by the mayor and four from City Council.
Nearly 80 resumes were accepted by City Council for the open seats on the board.
City Councilman Willie Lightfoot said there were roughly 30 people who were interviewed through the initial screening process.
Proponents of the measure say the board would add an extra layer of accountability and help build bridges between the Rochester Police Department and the citizens of the city.
The Rochester Police Locust Club has the proposal, calling the proposed board “a dramatic overreach that assaults any idea of fairness and reasonableness.” The Locust Club filed a lawsuit against the proposal which resulted, initially, in a preliminary injunction being issued against the referendum. That injunction was overturned by an appellate court, however the court did leave room for future legal proceedings regarding the proposal.
The City Council legislation is based on five pillars – among them, creating a board independent of city government and the RPD, investigative, subpoena and disciplinary powers and the ability to review RPD practices and procedures and make recommendations for systemic change.
Lightfoot said he could not yet disclose who the members of the board will be, as they will be announced later in the week. Mayor Lovely Warren has not yet announced her choice for the board either.
"I think the community is going to be very impressed with this group," Lightfoot said. "It's a very diverse group, very well rounded group as far as backgrounds."
After the announcement is made, Lightfoot said the next step for the board members will be training. The goal is to begin training within 30 days. An executive director for the Police Accountability Board will be hired shortly thereafter.