Theodore Forsyth 
Member since Jun 4, 2017



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Re: “Police-review leaders want change

I wanted to clarify a glaring mistake caught in my comment above.

I wrote, "potential board members to be trained in and practice mediation for three years." This statement is incorrect.

Our understanding is that after potential Civilian Review Board (CRB) panelists get trained, they are required to engage in a Center for Dispute Settlement (CDS) mediation apprenticeship. According to an Enough Is Enough member who attempted to get into the pool to be on the CRB, she was told that after the initial mediator training, she would be required, for at least a year, to sit in on three CDS mediations, conduct a co-mediation, and then conduct a mediation on her own, all of which would be unrelated to the CRB. After this, she said she would be evaluated and then put into a pool to be trained for the CRB; which would include Rochester Police Department (RPD) ride-alongs and RPD policies and procedures.

Potential panelists do not have to engage in mediation for three years before being admitted to the pool of CRB panelists. That was a mistake. I confused it with the fact that, every year a panelist is on the CRB, they are required to do three mediations, unrelated to the CRB, to maintain their state certification as well as their standing to be in the pool of CRB panelists.

My apologies on this error.

Theodore Forsyth

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Theodore Forsyth on 06/27/2017 at 1:51 PM

Re: “Police-review leaders want change

Frank Liberti and Cheryl Hayward of the Center for Dispute Settlement (CDS) (Towler, 6/17/17, "Police-review leaders want change") profess that the Civilian Review Board (CRB) "needs major improvement." Barbara Lacker-Ware and I, in conjunction with Enough Is Enough and the Rochester Coalition for Police Reform, released a report in February that details how the CRB has failed the people of Rochester. The Center for Dispute Settlement (CDS) seems to be a bit late to the party if they are just now noticing that the CRB "need major improvements."

The failures of the current CRB are many: it is administered by a private nonprofit that requires, among other hurdles, potential board members to be trained in and practice mediation for three years (this training is the bread and butter of CDS); the CRB has no independent investigative power (the police conduct the only investigations into complaints of misconduct); the CRB has no subpoena power (meaning that the CRB has no legal recourse to command the production of evidence or compel testimony); and finally, the Chief of Police makes the final determination for all complaints and imposes any discipline he sees fit. These have been the failures of the civilian review process under the Center for Dispute Settlement for 25 years.

Barbara and I looked at 15 years of data, specifically 1,173 allegations of police use of force against civilians, where only 2% of allegations (23 total) were sustained (meaning it was determined that the officer acted wrongly). Only 14 of those 23 sustained allegations led to discipline; the harshest discipline imposed was six suspensions. Police have routinely used unnecessary force against unarmed civilians and the current CRB has done nothing to curtail this misconduct for decades.

At the end of our report is an ordinance calling for the Police Accountability Board (PAB) to be created. The PAB would be an 11 member board with subpoena power and have independent investigative authority directly overseen by City Council. It would also have the power to compel the Chief to impose discipline, using a disciplinary matrix, if complaints were sustained. In short, the PAB would be a review board with teeth.

Liberti and Hayward's proposed changes to a system that needs "major improvement" feel tepid and quickly deployed in an attempt to get in front of a situation that they can't control. They have not cared about fixing the system before, and the only reason they care now is because their failure has been exposed. I encourage you all to read the full report ( and come to your own conclusions.

"It's toothless," he said. "It more or less rubber-stamps the decisions of the police chief." Community activist Howard Eagle said those words 18 years ago at a rally outside of City Hall denouncing the CRB as "not effective," according to a Democrat & Chronicle article from 9/4/99. Eighteen years later, his words continue to ring true.

7 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Theodore Forsyth on 06/19/2017 at 7:04 PM

Re: “Urban Action 5/31

The "Meeting focuses on oversight of police" is not at the Flying Squirrel Community Space as it was originally broadcast. It is now at Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh. Date, Tuesday, June 6, and time, 7:00pm, are the same. Signs and/or individuals will direct you to the meeting space in the church. Thanks!

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Theodore Forsyth on 06/04/2017 at 8:29 PM

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