December 2023 Meeting SummaryDecember 7th, 2023 PAB Meeting Summary
Observed by Deborah Rice Gordon
A recording of this meeting can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVuJ3bKKyb4
The minutes from the November 9th Board meeting were approved.
The staff report was given by De’Jon Hall for Interim Executive Director Sherry Walker-Cowart:
- The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Search Committee will be selecting a search firm from the 5 responses received for the request for proposal (RFP).
- Positions in case management, operations and public affairs have been posted and some are in the candidate interview stage.
- The Operations team continues to work with neighborhood development and the real estate division to secure office space.
- The operations team will be working with Captain Swetman in RPD on future mandated staff training to be held in the Spring. The National Association for Civilian Oversight has created a comprehensive training program which will be given early in the new year.
- Seven PAB members have graduated from the Rochester Police Department’s (RPD) Citizens Police Academy Training Program.
- The final version of PAB’s Right to Know Proposal for Change was submitted to RPD and city council which started a 30-day clock for their review and response. The Community Affairs and Public Relations Team will be reaching out to organizations to seek public input and ask for letters of support.
- The Public Affairs team is working on the fall edition of the newsletter. Anyone can sign up to receive the newsletter at: rocpab.org/blog.
- The budget for 2024/2025 is under development.
- The investigators will be meeting with the Board every third Thursday of the month to review cases. Three are ready for review this month and an additional 3 will be reviewed next month.
- Two options have been proposed to RPD for PAB interviews of police officers. The first is optional and is to provide us with a statement or an interview so that PAB can hear the officers’ perspectives. The first batch of requests was sent to RPD and the City Legal Department responded that the officers would not be interviewing and referenced PAB’s inability to discipline officers. However, this has nothing to do with the intent of the requests. The second option is to compel the officer to be interviewed for cases where information is needed to close the investigation. The first of these requests was sent out yesterday and a response has not been received yet.
- A third issue is subpoenas PAB has issued to RPD for records. Push back was received from President Melendez who was concerned that one city agency is suing another city entity. However, PAB is an independent agency and should be able to litigate to obtain required records. In response, PAB is attempting to get the information from the source, the Monroe County Sheriff’s records. PAB has requested the records under the Freedom of Information Act but was denied. A concern is that PAB’s jurisdiction over the Sheriff’s department is questionable. Another issue was obtaining email records and the City Law Department asked for the request in writing; a response has not been received yet. The last subpoena involves disciplinary records and personnel files. The department was to have met with the Police Chief to discuss what would be made available. The only records received to date are already on the public facing disciplinary port. PAB did not subpoena publicly available records, although that is what the Law Department is claiming. This necessitates refiling the subpoena to clarify the request. Director Beltran stated that she has never had to do this in her career and is urging discussion of these matters in an executive session.
- Staff attended the NACo conference. During discussions with other PAB board members in attendance, it was apparent that Rochester’s charter is rather unique in the powers it gives
- Budget season is starting next month. We would like to increase our funding to previous higher levels as an acknowledgment of the work done and progress made over the past year.
- A question was raised about the Deputy Police Chief’s lack of attendance at PAB Board meetings.
- One seat is still not filled and has been vacant for 8-9 months. The east district community is encouraged to reach out to their council member and urge filling of the seat.
Training Committee – the position of Training Director has been posted. One Board review panel exists currently, but more members will need to be trained to form additional panels.
Search Committee – 5 responses to the CEO RFP have been received. The responses will be reviewed tomorrow, and a search firm will be chosen. The firm will use a process that involves public input.
- PAB had one of the larger delegations at the NACo conference. Conversations were had with people from across the country who do this type of work and important relationships were begun. A common theme in workshops was the number of barriers that are encountered despite the community and legal support of PABs. The conference was the largest of its kind, which reflected the increase in PAB agencies. There are several proven processes for PAB work and the challenge is to allow them to happen.