Rochester police reform survey raises concerns over bias

Oct 21, 2020


The City of Rochester unveiled a survey on police reform Monday, but some residents argue that the way that questions are worded is problematic.

Sept. 16, 2020. Rev. Myra Brown of Spiritus Christi Church negotiates an agreement with RPD officers permitting protesters to remain outside City Hall amid demonstrations over the death of Daniel Prude.
Credit Max Schulte | WXXI News


City councilmember Mary Lupien said around 20 people have reached out to her with concerns over the wording of the survey within the first 24 hours of it’s release. 

“How you ask the question is just as important as who you’re reaching out to,” said Lupien. “So it’s important that if we’re really trying to get the poll of the community in where they’re at that we’re not trying to lead them in any direction.”

Lupien said the questions are biased towards approving police substations, only including positive aspects of what is proposed rather than the full picture. She also says the questions are worded to help further Mayor Lovely Warren’s political agenda. 

“Are we hoping for a certain outcome? Or do we truly want to poll the community for how they’re feeling right now about community and police relations and our path forward?” she said. “I think we can make a request to rethink the questioning, the line of questioning, but in terms of any definitive action I’m not sure what City Council can do.”

Justin Roj, the city’s communications director, said that the survey is part of Rochester Police Department’s interim police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan’s 90-day plan to connect with Rochester residents. 

He said it’s an initial attempt to engage the community on policing matters.

“Let’s see how this goes, and certainly [we] are open to improving and refining that process in the future,” he said.