Ted Forsyth 
Member since Jun 8, 2018


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Re: “Could a citizen board discipline Rochester police? Lawyers disagree

The full statement from the Police Accountability Board Executive Committee:

The Executive Committee for the Police Accountability Board Alliance agrees with the Harris Beach legal opinion that there is nothing to prohibit City Council from passing the Police Accountability Board with disciplinary power.

Although Corporation Counsel claims that the Taylor Law and the Rochester Police Locust Club collective bargaining agreement prevent changes to the police disciplinary process, Corporation Counsel fails to address the New York State Court of Appeals cases from 2008 and 2017 which have allowed other New York municipalities to change police disciplinary processes despite conflicting bargaining agreements. See Police Benevolent Ass'n of New York State Troopers, Inc. v. Div. of New York State Police, 11 N.Y.3d 96 (2008) and City of Schenectady v. New York State Pub. Employment Relations Bd., 30 N.Y.3d 109 (2017).

While the various legal details, a possible referendum, and changes to the City Charter are important, it is also important to stay focused on the fact City Council has the legal authority to establish a Police Accountability Board with disciplinary power.

The Police Accountability Board Alliance will be releasing a more detailed response in an upcoming press conference.

PABA Executive Committee
Pastor Wanda Wilson, Dr. Gayle Harrison, Matt DeLaus, and Ted Forsyth

2 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Ted Forsyth on 06/23/2018 at 11:56 AM

Re: “Alexander: Police-citizen partnership is key

As an advocate for the Police Accountability Board (PAB), in Rochester, NY, I am writing to correct several misconceptions perpetuated in Dr. Cedric Alexanders comments in last weeks City Newspaper article Alexander: Police-citizen partnership is key (6/4/18). Dr. Alexander, other city officials, and the article have repeated misinformation with regards to 1) state law and disciplinary power, 2) the Locust Club (Police) collective bargaining agreement, 3) PAB access to officer personnel records, and 4) relationship building between the police and the community.

1.) Dr. Alexander claims that reform supporters need to understand that review boards do not have the ability to sanction or discipline, police under New York State (NYS) Law. This is false. Section 75 of Civil Service Law outlines the procedures for disciplining public employees in New York State: The hearing upon such charges shall be held by the officer or body having the power to remove the person against whom such charges are preferred. . . (75(2)) Therefore, Civil Service Law explicitly acknowledges that a governmental body, such as the proposed Police Accountability Board, can have disciplinary authority. To date, neither Rochesters corporation counsel, nor any public officials, have been able to specifically cite any state law or case that would prevent Rochester from enacting a PAB with disciplinary power. Further, PAB disciplinary power is absolutely essential given the long history in Rochester of officers escaping punishment for misconduct under the current process. (See The Case for an Independent Police Accountability System: Transforming the Civilian Review Process in Rochester, New York (http://rochester.indymedia.org/sites/default/files/The%20Case%20for%20an%20Independent%20Police%20Accountability%20System%202.1.17%20FINAL.pdf)).

2.) The City article stated that new oversight needs to be negotiated with the police union. However, the New York State Court of Appeals has recently held that cities can make changes to police disciplinary procedures despite a conflicting collective bargaining agreement. (See Police Benevolent Ass'n of New York State Troopers, Inc. v. Div. of New York State Police 11 N.Y.3d 96 (2008) and City of Schenectady v. New York State Pub. Employment Relations Bd. 30 N.Y.3d 109 (2017).) Therefore, Rochester City Council has the power to enact a PAB and strengthen the disciplinary procedures without requiring the consent of the Locust Club.

3). The article says: state law says police officers' personnel records are confidential. While it is true that NYS Civil Rights Law 50-a prevents officer disciplinary records from being released to the public without a court order, this would not hinder the proposed Police Accountability Board, because under 50-a(4), government agencies are allowed access to officer disciplinary records in furtherance of the agencys official functions. Therefore, just as New York Citys Civilian Complaint Review Board and Syracuse's Citizen Review Board have access to officer disciplinary records, the proposed Rochester PAB would legally have access to officer disciplinary records.

4.) Finally, Dr. Alexander told City that building partnerships between police and the community is difficult because the perception is that police have gone overboard. Yet, the problem surpasses mere perceptions. Real lives have been lost and damaged. Recent examples include: Benny Warr, Dwayne Ivery, Phyllis Harmon, Keyoni Adams, Silvon Simmons, David Vann, Lentorya Parker, Branden Carter, Clarence Thompson, Brenda Hardaway, Quintin Keene, Scean Gordon, Daryl Appleberry, and Travis Welch. Ultimately, trust is built upon mutual respect, consent, communication, and action. It is built upon people having equitable levels of power. Police have and have had an inordinate amount of power in Rochester for a very long time. If Dr. Alexander and other public officials really value police-citizen partnerships they must prioritize a Police Accountability Board that is an independent agency of city government with the power to investigate complaints of police misconduct, with subpoena power to compel the production of evidence and witnesses, with disciplinary power to ensure that officers are actually held accountable for their misconduct, and with the power to evaluate systemic patterns, practices, policies and procedures to prevent misconduct from happening in the first place. A strong PAB would be a good first step towards giving the community more equitable control over how they are policed. Until the community has such equitable control, a true partnership is impossible.

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Ted Forsyth on 06/09/2018 at 12:17 PM

Re: “Alexander: Police-citizen partnership is key

Ms. Miller, you are misinformed on this issue.

2 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Ted Forsyth on 06/08/2018 at 10:19 AM

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