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Duwaine Bascoe, Vanessa J. Cheeks, Will Cleveland, Melody Harkness, and Chenoa Maye to Help Lead PAB’s Work

The Rochester Police Accountability Board has made five key hires that bring it one step closer toward its goal of launching investigations this spring. “Through their work in local journalism, service in Rochester’s legal community, and leadership in police oversight agencies in New York, these individuals have acquired a wealth of relevant expertise and a shared passion for our mission,” said PAB Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds. “With these hires and those that will be made in the weeks to come, our community can rest assured that the work of reimagining public safety will be performed by exceptionally qualified people who both understand and reflect our community.”

  • Duwaine Bascoe joins the PAB as Deputy Chief of Investigations, responsible for overseeing investigations into potential cases of police misconduct. Bascoe is a Litigation Attorney whose work has been recognized by organizations ranging from the Rochester Business Journal, Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and the Monroe County Bar Association. Bascoe serves as a Delegate to the New York State Bar Association, a Commissioner to the Rochester Housing Authority, a member of the MCBA President’s Committee on anti-racism, a member of the Lawyers Coalition for Racial and Social Justice, and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Change Create Transform Foundation.
  • Vanessa J. Cheeks has been appointed as PAB’s Deputy Chief of Public Information. Cheeks is a Rochester native who studied Advertising and Public Relations at RIT. She formerly worked as a television producer for one of the top-rated news stations in Rochester, winning an Edward. R. Murrow award for her work in breaking news coverage.  Cheeks also spent more than seven years as a freelance reporter in the city, covering stories on homelessness and housing, mental health awareness, and social justice initiatives in our area.
  • Will Cleveland will serve Deputy Chief of Accountability Inspection. Cleveland is a Rochester native and veteran investigative journalist, having spent the past 14 years working at the Democrat & Chronicle. While at the D&C, Cleveland covered public safety and craft beer. He has devoted much of his career to holding public officials accountable, police transparency, and digging for records through the state’s Freedom of Information Law. Cleveland’s work resulted in the City of Rochester publishing a public police disciplinary records database.
  • Melody Harkness is joining PAB as the Deputy Chief of Case Management.  Harkness is the Principal Chief Executive Officer of Harkness Consulting Solutions, LLC, a business consulting company specializing in strategic planning and diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion initiatives for groups worldwide. She formerly served as the Program Manager of the City of Albany Community Police Review Board at Albany Law School Government Law Center. Harkness is most recognized for her work developing the Closing the Gap project into a national model for remote pro bono legal services.
  • Chenoa Maye will serve as a Deputy Chief of Investigations. Maye is a Rochester native and an experienced litigator and mediator. In her previous work as a municipal attorney for the City of Rochester, she represented the City in the resolution of civil disputes and served as legal advisor to a range of municipal stakeholders. Maye’s additional areas of practice, and significant community engagement reflect her passion for youth and family advocacy.

For more information about this press release, please contact PAB Chief of Public Affairs Natalie Banks at [email protected].