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Body Cameras:  Rochester Mayor’s & City Council’s Vote On $2 Million Budget

by Reverend Lewis W. Stewart, President
United Christian Leadership Ministry of WNY, Inc.                                                                                    

June 16, 2015
This press conference has been called to express several notable points.

First, there will be a vote tonight on the Mayor’s budget which we anticipate will be approved. A part of the budget contains two million dollars which will be allocated towards the purchase and storage of Body Cameras for the Rochester Police Department.

Second, because of this anticipated approval, we are requesting and expecting a seat at the table to participate as members of the community in the final drafting and review of Body Camera policies.

Several months ago, we submitted Body Camera polices and protocols to the Mayor and the members of City Council for their perusal and use as a basis for Body Warn Camera policy.

We realize that Body Cameras are not a panacea to right all wrongs, but a tool to assist in curbing police misconduct and to improve police-community relations. This is a win-win for both the community and the police.

Third, we would hope that other police departments in Gates, Greece, Chili, Brighton, Irondequoit, Webster and the Sheriff’s Department will develop the necessary polices for body cameras. It is essential that this happens. If there are no policies, individual officers can turn body cameras on or off at their discretion; if that is so, then what is the use of having them.

Fourth, Rochester has the opportunity to be the leader on Body Worn Camera policy.

The development and facilitating of Body Worn Camera policies was initiated over a year ago prior to the rebellion in Ferguson

Those who assisted in making Body Worn Cameras a reality are the Genesee Valley New York Civil Liberties Union, Enough Is Enough, Greater Rochester of Community Churches, the Green Party, the Downtown Presbyterian Church Justice Team, Metro Justice, Teen Empowerment, United Leadership Ministry, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and many other organizations which names are listed on an attachment to this statement

And so, we thank all of the organizations and their representatives who were involved in this proces

Fifth, I want to thank Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council members for funding Body Warn Cameras

Sixth, the implementation of the Cameras are a first step toward our proposal Community Safety Agenda which includes:

  1. The Body Worn Camera
  2. A viable Independent Civilian Review process with subpoena power and investigative authority.
  3. A curtailment of the Stop and Frisk this is Racial Profiling which continues in Rochester and Monroe County on a daily basis.
  4. Consent to Search.
  5. Anti-Racism Professional Development Training.

Since then UCLM has added:

  1. The need for an Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate incidents of police us of excessive force and also fatalities caused by the police
  2. A look at fatalities resulting in the use of Tasers.

The Rochester Coalition for Police Reform with its member organizations shall continue to work on improving Police-Community relations as well as serving to monitor incidents of police racism and excessive use of force.

Let’s all stand together for a better Rochester and let’s end institutional and structural racism in our City, County, State and Nation.

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