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Conor Reynolds ousted as Police Accountability Board head

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Conor Dwyer Reynolds has been removed as executive director of the Police Accountability Board, ending a six-month-long saga that has upended daily life at the nascent city agency and been the source of ridicule for its critics.

The move came in a three hour closed-door meeting of the Police Accountability Board late Thursday, where board members voted 5-to-1 to oust Reynolds.

Two board members, Rabbi Drorah Setel and the Rev. Matthew Nickoloff, both recused themselves in response to a legal memo from Reynolds’ attorney alleging that they were were compromised due to their friendship with former Board Chair Shani Wilson, who Reynolds has accused of sexual harassment.

Setel and Nickoloff both denied partiality, and said they also had friendships with Reynolds, but said they opted to recuse themselves to avoid any potential legal action from Reynolds.

The meeting followed the release Tuesday of the findings of an independent investigation into the agency that had been commissioned by the Rochester City Council that concluded Reynolds had violated multiple city policies and exhibited “poor leadership and inappropriate behaviors that make him unsuitable to serve as executive director.”

City Council issued a letter Friday supporting Reynolds' termination. The letter also called on the PAB to make significant changes, and promising to overhaul the agency.



"This report gives us a sad picture of a dysfunctional agency lacking the proper structure to operate effectively," the letter read. "This Report also gives us a blueprint to move forward and fix what is not working."

City Council President Miguel Melendez said Friday that the city would move swiftly to reform the Police Accountability Board – vowing to either fix what is broken or rebuild it from the ground up.

"We want to stop the chaos," Melendez said. "And I think we want to get to what the public asked for, which is accountability."

RELATED: Attorneys to city: Sack suspended PAB director

Current and former workers of the PAB packed the meeting at the agency's offices at East Main Street and Clinton Avenue.

Prior to the meeting, staffers who are currently attempting to unionize called for Reynolds, who was also in attendance, to be reinstated. A letter, circulated to attendees, argued that the behavior described in the report was not grounds for firing Reynolds.  The letter echoed many sentiments Reynolds had expressed about the report earlier in the week.

In a phone call following the vote, Reynolds expressed dismay.

“A PAB which does not address the demands of its workers is not a PAB I want to work for,” Reynolds said.

Former Police Accountability Board Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds (left) and former Board Chair Shani Wilson in 2020. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Former Police Accountability Board Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds (left) and former Board Chair Shani Wilson in 2020.
The board also voted unanimously to find an interim executive director from outside the agency to replace Acting Manager Duwaine Bascoe, whose leadership in the interim has also been the subject of criticism by workers.

Bascoe will remain as head until a replacement is found, according to the board.

Reynolds, 32, was tapped to be the first executive director of the Police Accountability Board in November 2020. He was suspended in May after staffers raised concerns about retaliation after criticizing his leadership. Investigators found no evidence of retaliation. 

In all, Reynolds marks the seventh employee of the PAB to be fired since May. Six other staffers have since resigned.

Reynolds said he planned on rehiring fired employees if he was reinstated.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.

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