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Warren says Rochester police should not be defunded

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren
James Brown
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren claims the relationship between the police department and city residents is “light-years ahead” of other cities. 

During a news conference Wednesday, Warren was asked about a common chant and request from Black Lives Matter protesters. They say that police departments should be defunded. The Minneapolis City Council plans to do that in their city.

Warren said that Rochester police shouldn’t be defunded, noting that the department could receive a 3 percent decrease in funding this year. She also defended her administration’s efforts to smooth the relationships between city police and residents. 

“Nothing happens in a vacuum but I can tell you that by light years Rochester is ahead of the curve and we will continue to do what is necessary to make sure that our community feels safe and that our officers feel safe and that we can work in partnership to uplift our community together,” Warren said.

When asked whether that’s enough for Black Lives Matter protesters, Warren said that defunding police isn’t something that all of Rochester wants. 

“So there are many residents in the city of Rochester, right?,” said Warren. “And they all have different needs that we have to balance. I can tell you that as many people as you’ve talked to, I’ve spoken to who say don’t defund the police. So our goal is that we work in partnership and that we try to uplift the entire community. There are many people who want the relationship between the police and the community to improve and I’ve already shown you the steps that we’ve taken since 2014 to improve them.”

Warren said the department’s use of worn cameras, her youth advisory board, programs like clergy on patrol and banning chokeholds put the city far ahead of their counterparts.

She concedes that the relationship between the police is not perfect but said it can improve through partnerships with the community. 

In another matter involving police community relations, Warren was asked about the requests of the El Bey family to meet with Warren and Police Chief La'Ron Singletary. The El Beys include a 10 year old girl who Rochester Police handcuffed and detained during a traffic stop on Route 104 in May.

Warren said she was open to speaking to the family until they announced their intentions to sue the city. Chief Singletary said an internal RPD investigation concluded that the officers did not violate any protocols. Singletary said that there are no age guidelines for use of handcuffs.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.