PAB Legal Opinion Fund

$2,283 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 40 people in 13 months
Enough Is Enough disagrees with City Council in regards to an important legal issue concerning the Police Accountability Board. City Council maintains that NYS Civil Service Law Article 75 prohibits the proposed Police Accountability Board from having the authority to discipline Rochester Police Department officers for misconduct. And it is essential that the power to discipline police officers for misconduct is taken away from the Rochester Police Chief and given to an independent body that can fairly apply discipline without conflicts of interest.

Article 75 clearly states that the authority to discipline police officers is held by the "officer [read Police Chief] or body." We believe that the stipulation that a "body" can administer discipline includes a body such as the Police Accountability Board, which will be made up of community representatives trained in investigating and assessing cases of police misconduct. It is our belief that City Council's interpretation of Article 75 is informed more by conventional wisdom developed through a history of giving the Rochester Police Chief this authority in stead of being informed by an adequate review the laws on the books.

City Council is currently seeking an independent legal opinion with an unknown law firm. We are interested in seeking our own legal opinion on the interpretation of Article 75. We think it is important to get our own legal opinion because of the uncertainly regarding the legal opinion City Council is acquiring. We are confident that our interpretation, as well as the case law, supports our position. The interpretation of this law is so important for the PAB that it should not be left to chance.

We are asking for donations to contribute to the cost of obtaining this legal opinion. The opinion is likely to cost $5000. Any money donated above the donation goal will be used for general expenses for the PAB advocacy campaign, such as paying for venues and PAB advertisement material.
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The Police Accountability Board Alliance has met with City Council three times going line by line through the ordinance. At this point, nothing is off the table. Your public and financial support are invaluable in keeping the pressure on Council to do the right thing: pass a PAB with the 5 pillars and a budget to operate. On Tuesday, Oct. 16, PAB supporters packed City Council. When speakers would go up to speak on the PAB, everyone stood with black signs held high. In white lettering, the front said "You're listening but..." On the backs of the signs were the names of nearly 40 people who have either been killed by the Rochester Police Department or physically injured. When the speaker would start speaking at the podium, say a name and ask for 2 min. of silence, the audience turned their signs around with all those names glaring in the faces of City Council. The people were silent as church mice. It was powerful. There is video on the PAB Alliance facebook page. And lots of photos. Thank you for your continued and exuberant support! Justice is coming! <3
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Great news everyone. At the end of May, Rochester City Council released the legal opinion from Harris Beach as well as the Corporation Counsel's rebuttal. The Police Accountability Board Alliance is having a press conference next Wednesday to elucidate a way forward to show how Rochester City Council can establish a Police Accountability Board. (Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1988538147874345/) For the time being, we are still raising money for potential legal work as we advance towards victory and the passage of a Police Accountability Board that this community has demanded for over 50 years. Also, if you didn't see it, a new article and damning video showing three RPD officers brutalizing David Vann, in handcuffs, in 2015, was released on Rochester.Indymedia.org. The link to the article is: http://rochester.indymedia.org/node/147955. As always, we greatly and humbly appreciate all of the donations, well-wishes, and support. Please keep sharing this campaign. And come to an Enough Is Enough cook out to raise funds for Travis Welch, another person of color, brutalized by the RPD: https://www.facebook.com/events/841903109313527/. THANK YOU!!! <3 <3
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One more update! We are still collecting funds. We may need legal assistance with changing the City Charter, referendums, and other issues as they come up. Please continue sharing this fundraiser and thank you so much for your support! <3
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Today, June 21, 2018, Rochester City Council released the legal opinion regarding disciplinary power prepared by Harris Beach. They also released the rebuttal from Corporation Counsel.

President Loretta Scott's press release reads:

"Statement from City Council President Loretta C. Scott Regarding the Police Accountability Board

"The City Council has been performing a continuous evaluation of the process for reviewing citizen complaints against members of the Rochester Police Department. This review is not to be taken lightly, and the process is not one that can be rushed. We are committed to implementing a real solution that addresses the community’s call for increased trust, accountability and transparency.

"In the spirit of transparency, I will continue to update the community periodically. I want folks to know where we are in the process and where we are going. Earlier this year the City Council issued a Request for Proposals to obtain a legal opinion that would answer the critical question of whether or not a Police Accountability Board could be legally empowered to discipline police officers. Harris Beach, PLLC was selected to review this question and provided Council with their opinion. The City of Rochester’s Law Department reviewed this opinion and provided a differing perspective. (Both documents are attached).

"We were presented with two different views from two respected legal entities in our community. Harris Beach’s opinion states:

“'we have concluded that the proposed PAB may be legally empowered to discipline police officers, provided that certain amendments are made to the Charter of the City of Rochester that delegate such authority to the PAB.'

"Our own law department feels that this review underestimates the weight and impact of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Taylor Law.

"The Council will consider these opinions and use them to inform the development of a new Police Accountability Board. "

The Police Accountability Board Alliance Executive Committee will be holding a press conference within the next two weeks to address the opinion, the rebuttal, and next steps.

You can read City Newspaper's article and download the documents here: https://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/could-a-citizen-board-discipline-rochester-police-lawyers-disagree/Content?oid=6914313

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Raised by 40 people in 13 months
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