ITHACA, N.Y. — Should civilian oversight boards for police departments have subpoena power?
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Frank Liberti, of the Rochester Center for Dispute Settlement, appeared in Ithaca for a presentation on police boards on Wednesday. Liberti discussed whether police boards should be given the authority to subpoena officers while investigating complaints by the community.
But Ithaca’s Community Police Board likely does not need subpoena power, according to two of its members.
“We haven’t been denied access to anything under this administration,” said Shirley Kane, co-chair of Ithaca’s Community Police Board. Kane said board members have easy access to officers and information about incidents when they are investigating a case.
Marion DaGrossa, another member of Ithaca’s Community Police Board, said she agreed subpoena power would be unnecessary in Ithaca. “I think I have gotten all the information I need on the cases that I’ve worked,” she said.
She said Liberti told the audience the Rochester board has never had to subpoena an officer, but spends money training boards members about when it is appropriate to do so.
“People did suggest that the reason they didn’t use their subpoena power may be because they have it,” DaGrossa said.
She said it’s akin to a father hanging a wooden paddle on the wall to make his children behave — something Ithaca doesn’t need.
Common Council member Graham Kerslick, a liaison to the Community Police Board, said the Rochester board also has more resources than the Ithaca board. He said it has a larger pool of candidates for members and is working with a larger budget to pay for training.