New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc.
24 Century Hill Drive Suite 002
Latham, New York 12110
Chief Patrick D. Phelan (Greece PD), President
Executive Director: Chief (Ret.) Michael N. Geraci
Director of Research, Training and Development: Chief (Ret.) Larry Eggert
Treasurer: Asst. Chief (Ret.) Stephen Conner
The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police strongly opposes the Rochester City Council police accountability board proposal. While there are many active, functioning civilian review boards in the State of New York, the Rochester proposal is a dramatic overreach that assaults any idea of fairness and reasonableness. Giving a civilian review board investigative power and authority to discipline defies logic.
Police Chiefs are professionals. We spend a lifetime acquiring the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to manage the operations of a police department and to supervise its sworn and civilian members. Progressive discipline in any workplace is a tool that is used to maintain order and insure adherence to rules, regulations, and procedures. Discipline is an important tool that is used to correct behavior, not a sword to be wielded by vindictive individuals with questionable motives.
Police Chiefs are all accountable to a civilian board in the form of a city council or a town or village board. We are answerable to this group of civilians that are elected for the people, by the people under our democratic system. These boards have the authority to oversee the job performance of the Chief of Police and have the responsibility to question the Chiefs decisions. They adopt our budgets and have input in our policies and procedures. Discipline is and should be the sole responsibility of the Chief of Police under the supervision of their established political leadership system. Any duly elected body that surrenders their ultimate decision-making control to an appointed civilian review board is acknowledging their inability to perform the role for which they were elected.
The idea of adding another unnecessary, costly layer of government in addition to the government that already exists is an example of all that is wrong with government today. It is not good government. In fact it smacks of political patronage. The Rochester proposal allocates a great deal of money for the board and suggests a paid “executive director” who will no doubt have a “staff”. These political appointees will be political cronies afforded jobs based on their political associations and being subservient to those who appointed them, not to those who elected them. Are these the individuals the residents of Rochester want to be issuing discipline to their police officers? Would you want a similar biased discipline system in your workplace?
The administration of discipline in a police department is not a simple matter. Police Officers are employees governed by a myriad of laws, policies and procedures. They are union members with a negotiated agreement that governs the terms and conditions of employment, including their disciplinary process. Police Chiefs possess the experience and knowledge to work within these systems to issue proper discipline that is fair and reasonable and that will withstand the tests of the law. No one is more qualified for this task than a Police Chief. Supplanting police discipline into the hands of an inexperienced civilian board will be costly and ineffective. The suggestion of this police accountability board in the manner it is suggested is an insult to every Police Chief in the State of New York. It says to us that we are not capable or competent to manage a police department. Let the Police Chiefs do their job. Let them answer to the civilian boards that are currently in place and that have been elected by the people. Let us do the work of protecting the citizens of our community, ensuring public safety and fostering public trust.
Only six months ago the City of Rochester appointed an honorable principled man, an ethically driven professional as their Chief of Police. We urge you to come to a reasonable decision that will give Chief La’Ron Singletary an opportunity to perform all aspects of the job that he was hired to do.