The Rochester City Council held a discussion about a proposed police accountability board Tuesday evening, drawing a full house of both supporters and detractors.
Locust Club union members and their supporters started on the steps of Rochester City Hall, before moving inside the council chambers and pouring out into the hall.
“We got a lot of concern — it’s about our due process rights," Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said. "But it’s also about ensuring we can do the job that the community needs us to do.”
The Rochester Police Department Union was there to oppose the proposed board, which would establish a city agency to investigate accusations of police misconduct.
“We believe that the voice of the community has not been heard, and we believe the drafted legislation has been drafted by a very small group with one perspective,” Mazzeo said.
The Police Accountability Board Alliance was also there to support the legislation, with signs naming local victims of police brutality.
“The problem is that black and brown people in a majority non-white city do not trust the Rochester Police Department to effectively handle complaints of police misconduct,” PAB Alliance member Matt DeLau said.
For the Locust Club, they believe the proposal is an unnecessary blow to public safety, based on inaccurate or incomplete information.
“They’ve discounted a study the council has commissioned themselves, which shows our numbers and our review process is in fact better than any city of our equivalent in New York State," Mazzeo said. "I think when you have that data and proof, there’s not a need to drastically overhaul what you have in place.”
But the PAB Alliance wants comprehensive reform to help protect minorities and the underserved from instances of police brutality.
“The police accountability board is an investment in public trust and community policing, and generally improving the negative relations between police and community we’ve had since the riots,” DeLaus said.
And residents got to weigh in too.
“The anti-police, pro-drug, $300,000 a year, tax-payer money would weaken the effectiveness of the Rochester Police and empower the drug dealers and users, by suspended the RPD for any supposed infraction,” one said.
Another weighed in for the PAB.
“You give civilian control to the public. The public who isn’t biased or prejudiced against police, because we have a lot of great police of all races, young and old. But we don’t want any more injuries against civilians for no reason, for unjust causes,” he said.
A date is not scheduled for when any vote on the legislation would take place.