The Police Accountability Board is adding staff, and City Council will continue to fight for the board’s ability to discipline officers it finds in violation of rules, policies and procedures.
Natalie L. Banks was hired in May as chief of public affairs and Rosabel Antonetti started in late June as chief of operations.
The appointments were announced June 30 by Executive Director Conor Dywer Reynolds in a news release, one day after City Council announced it would continue quest of disciplinary powers for the board by going to the Court of Appeals.
The hirings occurred before City Council passed the budget that allotted nearly $5 million to the PAB. The salaries are $79,109 for each position.
In the release, Reynolds said the hirings allow the board to “to move quickly to build our agency into the tool of accountability and change our community needs. …”
As chief of public affairs, Banks is responsible for community education and engagement in the work of the PAB. Banks holds a bachelor’s degree in public communications from Buffalo State College and a master’s degree in strategic leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College. Banks formerly served as program manager of the Facing Race, Embracing Equity (FR=EE) initiative. As lead administrator of the program, she was responsible for coordinating the working groups charged with addressing racism and equity across Rochester in the areas of health, education, employment, criminal justice and housing. Banks is a certified leadership coach and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
As chief of operations, Antonetti is responsible for ensuring the board fruns smoothly and transparently and its work is accessible. Antonetti is a graduate Monroe Community College and holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Rochester Institute of Technology, along with a certificate in Nonprofit Management from St. John Fisher College. She most recently served as the resource development manager at the Pathstone Foundation, a not-for-profit community development organization dedicated to eliminating poverty and strengthening families and individuals. She was responsible for managing foundation’s operational budget, donor relations, and coordinating various fundraising activities.
On June 29, City Council released a statement that it would take its case for the PAB to have disciplinary powers to the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state.
Earlier in June, the Appellate Division of the Fourth Judicial Department upheld a lower court ruling that said the PAB did not have the power to discipline RPD officers.
“This is not the end of the fight for a more transparent public safety system in Rochester,” City Council President Loretta Scott wrote in the release.
The release said City Council had set aside $170,000 in case it had to take the case to the Court of Appeals. The release said that City Council would keep the public updated.
As for how much of the $170,000 has been used and the procedure procedure if more money will be needed, a spokeswoman for City Council responded that the contract with the law firm already engaged in the appeal will be extended per city ordinance 2020-207, which allows for two 1-year extensions.
Potentially going to the Court of Appeals was in the $170,000 budget, so council does not plan on needing more money.
As for deciding to press on to the Court of Appeals, City Council “did an informal vote during a meeting with counsel – a majority of Council was present at the time and everyone present voted in favor.
A follow-up on whether every member was present was not immediately answered.