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PAB: Rochester police are not transparent enough 

click to enlarge A police officer inside a Rochester Police cruiser.

PHOTO BY JAMES BROWN

A police officer inside a Rochester Police cruiser.

The Rochester Police Accountability Board has proposed policies aimed at increasing transparency in the Rochester Police Department.

In a report released Monday, the PAB recommended that the police department keep detailed, up-to-date, incident-level data on every aspect of policing. It calls on the department to publish the race, gender, and age of complainants, type of force used, and injuries sustained by the complainant.

“A robust dataset on complaints about police misconduct would allow the public to evaluate patterns of misconduct and discipline,” the report reads. “The public can see whether discipline varies based on officer or civilian demographics, the source of complaint (internal or external), or some other factor.”

The department does keep a database of complaints filed and also of proven complaints with supporting documents. The data does not contain information beyond the dates and varieties of complaints, and any findings.

The PAB’s report and recommendations are based on a scoring system developed by the Vera Institute of Justice called the Police Data Transparency Index. Departments are scored based on the availability of public information on different facets of policing, which allows cities across the country to be compared with each other..

On the issue of police misconduct, the Rochester Police Department received a 54 out of 100 regarding public availability of data. It scored a 100 on the topic of training materials, which are all publicly available on the department’s data website, and a 34 on arrest information. While the department does show total arrests in its annual report, it does not keep a publicly available list of arrest information.

Overall, the RPD scored a 41 out of 100, placing them squarely in the median of departments nationwide. Birmingham, Alabama is the lowest scoring out of the 94 departments surveyed, at 10 out of 100.

The Rochester Police Department scored a zero in police shooting, use of force, and traffic stop information, meaning no data is available to the public on those subjects.

“The data published by RPD lacks the level of detail necessary to carry out meaningful analyses of police training, activities, and outcomes,” the report reads. “More robust data would empower the citizens of Rochester to monitor and evaluate RPD practices, policy compliance, and potential patterns of inequitable policing.”

The report also puts top priority in releasing data on two categories: car pursuits and budget documents, including a breakdown of each individual expense.

The policy proposal is now entering its public comment period, with the PAB accepting public input through October 26.

While the Police Accountability Board is responsible for making policy recommendations, it does not have the authority to compel the department to make changes. Any policy shifts would be made at the police chief’s direction.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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