El Mensajero (English)

Posted: November 14, 2017

Center offers alternative way to lodge police complaints

By Annette Jiménez/EMC

When Rochester city officials created the Civilian Review Board in 1992, they selected the nonprofit organization Center for Settlement Dispute to administer the board process.
 
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In addition, the Center for Settlement Dispute also serves as an alternative intake site for residents’ complaints against the Rochester Police Department, noted Cheryl Hayward, the center’s director of police and community relations.
 
Hayward explained that some residents may not feel comfortable going through the RPD’s formal complaint process that begins with its Professional Standards Section (PSS), which serves as the RPD’s Internal Affairs division.
 
“We assist them (residents) in drafting a complaint, whether it’s excessive use of force, (lack of) courtesy or improper conduct,” she said of the Center for Settlement Dispute.
 
When the center receives a complaint against the RPD, a report is taken and the complainant may choose to take part in mediation with a trained volunteer, Hayward said.
 
“We invite the officer and the person to come in and have a conversation,” she added. “It’s an opportunity to share. … We vet those (sessions) pretty well. We don’t want a shouting match with an officer or have the officer revictimize the citizen.”
 
Depending on how the mediation goes, a citizen may still decide to file a formal complaint with the RPD, Hayward said.
 
She added that all complaints of a more egregious nature, such as alleged excessive use of force, are still forwarded to PSS for additional investigation and also are currently investigated by the Civilian Review Board.
 
Juan Torres said he has been frustrated by his recent interactions with the RPD. He alleges that the RPD was dismissive of his complaints about incidents of loitering, disorderly conduct and potential drug trafficking near his Scranton Street home and that there was a lack of immediate response time.
 
“It is sad that our community is being left out by the department,” Torres said. “We are counting on police enforcement so we can at least have a quiet and peaceful life. … Police should be more professional in the way they talk to neighbors.”
 
RPD officials said they could not comment on the specifics of Torres’ complaint.

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