Northeast community activist Ida Perez and the Rev. Rickey Harvey are among nine city residents selected to the Police Accountability Board, City Council announced Jan. 15.
City Council was allotted four of the seats. The Police Accountability Board Alliance was allotted four seats. The mayor was allotted appointment to one seat.
The council seats are filled by:
- Dr. Robert Harrison III of Berkeley Street;
- Perez, of Scrantom Street;
- Rabbi Drorah Setel of Seneca Parkway; and
- Rev. Matthew Nickoloff of Linden Street.
The PABA seats are filled by:
- Jonathan Dollhopf of Rugby Avenue;
- Miquel Powell of Alexander Street;
- Shani Wilson of Pleasant Street; and
- Dr. Celia McIntosh of Merrill Street.
Harvey was the mayor’s appointment.
City Council received 61 resumes. The Police Accountability Board Alliance submitted 12 names.
The PAB members come from throughout the city and represent different ethnic groups, ages, religions, sexual orientation, according to City Council President Loretta Scott. She said they have training in mediation, leadership on boards of directors and community organization.
“Though the task ahead of them is great, I have the utmost confidence that this group will establish a transparent and effective PAB for Rochester,” Scott said.
The Rev. Lewis Stewart, president of the United Christian Leadership Ministry, has advocated for years for more police accountability. He said he was pleased that a board had been selected, but questioned whether the members were experienced in police-community relations.
“Most of them, from what I see, have not had that experience,” Stewart said the day after the board was announced. “That’s not to say they cannot acquire that knowledge and cannot learn. The fact is, starting out of the gate, we need people at least who have some experience in that area. With the people selected, I just don’t see that.”
Stewart said that two people associated with UCLM and who have experience in police- community relations applied and were interviewed but were not selected.
The term of the initial board concludes on June 30 and then members will be appointed to staggered terms.
City Council voted 9-0 on Jan. 21 to pass the PAB legislation.
However, the Rochester Police Locust Club has sued to stop the PAB, and a decision on the merits of the legislation creating the board has not been determined.
Prior to the vote, Locust Club president Mike Mazzeo issued a statement: “We continue to have serious concerns regarding City Council’s Accountability Board selection process and the lack of accountability for that board once is is in place. We trust that pending litigation on this matter will address and remedy our concerns.”
Mazzeo attended the council meeting on Jan. 21 to witness the vote.
A brief recap of the situation:
Legislation to create the Police Accountability Board was passed unanimously by City Council in May 2019. The union sued to stop the measure from going to a referendum in November. The union said the legislation violated the collective bargaining agreement, but the initial legal tussle was over whether the legislation should be on the ballot.
The union lost that battle, and the referendum received 75% of the vote in the November.
But the arguments over the actual merits of the legislation continue. State Supreme Court Justice John Ark sent a series of questions to the city and the union, and both sides just recently submitted their replies and are awaiting Ark’s ruling. However, it’s that one side or the other will appeal the decision.
This story was updated Jan. 16, 2020 with comments from Rev. Lewis Stewart and updated Jan. 22 with the result of the City Council vote and comments from Mike Mazzeo.