Changes coming to the way Rochester handles complaints against police

Adam McFadden. FILE PHOTO

BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN

The group that has been reviewing the way Rochester handles complaints against members of its police department will present recommendations for change at a public meeting tomorrow night. Among those recommendations: giving people who file complaints against the police an advocate to help them through the process, and hiring someone to monitor complaints as they move through the system.

Common criticisms of the process is that it’s insular — police investigating police — and that it takes too long to resolve complaints.

The group split into smaller committees during its yearlong examination, with each committee compiling its own recommendations. Those lists have been synthesized into one overall list of recommendations, which will be given to City Council to vote on.

Tweaks are still being made to the list, says City Council member Adam McFadden, who leads the group with Police Chief James Sheppard. One thing that will likely be added is an appeals process, he says. Currently, the final resolution of a complaint is up to Sheppard. That would still be the case, McFadden says, but the decision would be able to be appealed, possibly to City Council or the mayor.

The other recommendations include updating complainants on the status of their cases via letter every 30 days, sharing the disposition of the case with the complainant, and having more community outreach and more conflict-resolution training for police.

McFadden says the list isn’t perfect, and that some people will continue to insist on a review process completely separate from the police. But that would be too expensive, he says. Currently, complaints are investigated by the police department’s Professional Standards Section, and in certain circumstances, those investigations are vetted by the Center for Dispute Settlement.

Thursday’s meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street.

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