Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) (2021)
This does not count as a consultancy, but it is included here because of the significant role of CEO Johnson, who was one of the three volunteer co-chairs of this Commission. It was appointed in June 2020 by the Mayor of Rochester and the Monroe County Executive, in the aftermath of national protests over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman. Three months after Floyd, these protests took on more significance locally when it was revealed that a visitor to the City of Rochester, Daniel Prude, had died while in the custody of the Rochester PD. This episode occurred in March, but it was kept from the public until September. The 24 member commission was charged to:
Inventory and assess current local laws and policies that either promote or are intended to eliminate institutional and structural biases, racism and inequities or are no longer applicable.
Provide recommendations to enhance current local laws/policies to increase effectiveness, and/or “sunset” local laws/policies that are ineffective or no longer applicable.
Provide recommendations on any new local laws/policies to address identified gaps.
The Commission’s work covered nine subject areas: Policing; Criminal Justice: Mental Health and Addiction; Healthcare; Education; Housing; Human Services; Business Development; and Job Creation. Over a nine month period, the Commission engaged nearly 200 volunteers, staff, consultants and student interns on nine working groups. Despite the severe coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, these groups worked virtually to gain input from citizens who have been adversely impacted by racist and inequitable systems, advocates and practitioners in these fields. In March 2021, a comprehensive report was submitted to the Mayor and County Executive, and simultaneously released to the public. It included the nine working group reports, more than 50 recommendations, and a detailed implementation plan for achieving action on this report. The three co-chairs and assigned staff were committed to a fully transparent process, where the work of the commission is respected, openly discussed in the community, seriously considered and implemented as fully as possible. This process is proceeding, with a new Mayor committed to this work.