WATCH: Mayor Seeks to Improve Community Policing With Citizen Help
To get to the root of the problems between some Rochester residents and officers, the city plans to go straight to the sources.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Mayor Lovely Warren announced an initiative dubbed “90 Days of Community Engagement” that will begin in October. At her request, Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli and the department’s deputy chief for community relations will spend the first 60 days gaining public input on how to further improve the relationship between officers and the community. Officers are also expected to provide feedback with the same goal in mind.
“I refuse to believe that building a culture of respect and understanding on our streets is unattainable because I believe in both our citizens and in our police department,” said Warren.
The new plan comes nearly two weeks after a viral video showing a city officer wrestling a woman from behind on Hollenbeck Street, as she walked away from him. The woman was standing on the sidewalk while officers blocked neighborhood streets to make an arrest. She can be heard yelling at the officers, “Get off of him!”
One officer shouts back, “You were told to leave multiple times. You either leave now or you go to jail,” before running toward and tackling the woman. The controversial Facebook video, posted on September 15, has been shared about 8,300 times and viewed more than 330,000 times.
Mike Mazzeo, president of the union that represents Rochester police officers, cautioned Monday against a rush to judgment and said that the video doesn’t tell the whole story. He also said body cameras worn by officers do not operate correctly and that officers have not been properly trained. Ciminelli disagreed with the latter claim and defended allegations that the videotaped officer in question intentionally turned his body camera off.
“This is the only time that it happened. We think what happened is it was the contact between the body of the person being arrested and the officer, so we're looking more at the placement of the camera,” Ciminelli said.
The Mayor has asked to be presented with a draft strategic plan on community policing, which she hopes to receive by the New Year.
Councilmember Adam McFadden also outlined a process for City Council to strengthen the current Civilian Review Board which gives oversight to the Police Department. He’s proposing to move forward with a previous community request for subpoena power.
“We want our civilians to feel safe and comfortable in bringing about complaints and we want them to feel like they do have a process that will work in their favor.”
RPD has released body camera and blue light camera videos from the September 15, 2016 incident mentioned above. You can view each one below:
Body Worn Camera Videos
Police Overt Digital Surveillance System Video (Blue light):