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Police Union Files Ethics Complaint Against PAB Executive Director

Patti Singer

The Rochester Police Locust Club has alleged an ethics violation against Police Accountability Board Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds. File photo

The Rochester Police Locust Club has filed an ethics complaint against the executive director of the Police Accountability Board, alleging a conflict of interest because he was present at an event for City Council candidate Stanley Martin while anti-police slogans were chanted.

The complaint against Conor Dwyer Reynolds was sent to the city’s Ethics Board on June28. The complaint also names PAB chairperson Shani Wilson and board member Rabbi Drorah Setel.

Video posted to Facebook shows supporters of Martin cheering her finish in the Democratic primary on June 22. As the camera pans the room, Reynolds is seen applauding, smiling and chatting with others.

The video captures the group chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets” and “Which side are you on, my people?” before chanting an anti-police slogan that had profanity.

Martin and Kim Smith ran as part of the People’s Slate, and they finished among the top five candidates for City Council in the primary.

Martin was among the leaders of Free the People Roc, which led protests last summer after the killing of George Floyd and in the fall after the death of Daniel Prude became public.

The website for the People’s Slate has a platform that calls for reallocating money from police, reimagining public safety, and promoting quality, affordable housing as a human right and ending evictions.

Reynolds wrote that he, other local officials and reporters were invited to an event he said he understood to be hosted by the People’s Slate to watch election returns.

“At the end of the event, one candidate led some controversial chants that I neither expected nor participated in nor supported,” he wrote in an email. “Given the nature of the event, I was surprised the chants happened; I told the candidate as much afterwards.”

Emails seeking comment also were sent to Wilson and Setel. Wilson declined to comment and Setel has yet to reply.

The complaint from the Locust Club cites Section 18-9 of the PAB legislation that addresses conflict of interest.

The section states that no member or employee of the board “shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of their duties in the public interest.”

The section also states that “if a Board member has a personal, business or other relationship or association with a party to or a witness in a matter before the Board, the member shall disclose the situation to the Chairperson, and shall recuse themselves from deliberations or action in connection with that case.”

The complaint states that Martin and other members of the gathering are members of the Police Accountability Board Alliance, which provides potential members of the PAB. The complaint states that Martin, if elected to City Council, will be voting on PAB budgets and members.

The complaint alleges that attendance by the PAB members at the event on the night of the June 22 primary violates the city’s code of ethics, which states that no city officer or employee “shall … engage in any professional activity, or incur any obligation, as a result of which, directly or indirectly, he or she would have an interest that would impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her official duties or that would be in conflict with the performance of his or her official duties.”

The complaint states that since “the PAB is tasked with creating a better, fairer system for holding individual officers accountable for their actions,” attendance by the PAB executive director and board members conflicts with PAB legislation and the city’s ethics.

“We have a fine line to walk at the PAB. Our job is to be fair and impartial,” Reynolds wrote in response to his attendance. “Our job is also to listen to and bring together people on all sides, including police officers and (underline his) people who don’t trust the police. This means our staff – when doing things like monitoring protests, holding public forums, and building relationships in the community – may be speaking to, and in spaces with, people who say and do things we strongly disagree with.”