WXXI AM News

Police

We sit down with Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode and Officer Mike Furia. Officer Furia was recently praised for his interaction with a man who said he was homeless, and who officers thought was experiencing a mental health crisis. Furia brought the man to a shelter, just one day before he was shot and killed by an RPD officer.

We talk with him and the chief about responding to calls that involve mental health issues. Our guests: 

  • James VanBrederode, Gates Police Chief 
  • Mike Furia, Gates Police Officer  

What is qualified immunity for police officers? Activists in Rochester have joined a growing chorus – including some members of Congress –  calling for an end to qualified immunity. A local panel of legal experts had already planned to host a public discussion on the issue before the announcement this week that no Rochester police officers would face charges over the death of Daniel Prude. The discussion becomes even more timely, as the panel addresses the legal issues related to criminal and civil liability of law enforcement.

Our guests:  

The grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officers involved in death of Daniel Prude has sparked outrage, emotion, and conversation throughout the community. During her press conference on Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James shared her recommendations for police reform.

This hour, we discuss the results of the grand jury’s investigation, the reaction, and what our guests would like to see in terms of police reform. Our guests: 

  • Natalie Ann Knott, assistant public defender 
  • Danielle Ponder, attorney and musician

Students in the Rochester City School District no longer see police officers in their schools. As part of the approval of the city’s budget in June, all 12 school resource officers were removed from RCSD campuses. The call to remove police officers from schools is being made by districts across the country; those calls escalated following the killing of George Floyd. Advocates for removal say officers make students feel unsafe and they  can criminalize students – especially students of color. Those who support the presence of police in schools say well-trained officers can help students diffuse conflicts and address issues like drug and alcohol use.

Our guests this hour discuss the issue: 

The death of Daniel Prude in police custody has led to conversations about police training. What are officers trained to do in specific situations? Should that training be changed?

We talk with a retired Rochester Police Department sergeant and a retired Rochester Police Department lieutenant about the state of police training. Our guests:

  • Marvin Stepherson, retired sergeant with the Rochester Police Department, and adjunct professor in the Adult Pathway Program at Roberts Wesleyan College
  • Janssen Rembert, retired lieutenant with the Rochester Police Department 

A group of pastors and faith leaders has published a letter in regards to the recent protest movement led by Free the People Roc. They're planning a Friday event, and they join us to discuss how they see the demands from the protest leaders, as well as the current climate in the Rochester region.

Our guests:

Max Schulte/WXXI News

The president of the union representing Rochester police officers on Monday offered tepid praise for the selection of Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan as the city's new interim police chief.


Free the People Roc has called for a temporary pause to daily or nightly protests in Rochester. Their goal is to rest and prepare for the next phase of work to enact significant and lasting change. So what is the end goal? Are their demands negotiable? Can they work with the mayor, after calling for Mayor Warren's resignation?

Our guest joins us for her first conversation on Connections since the story of Daniel Prude went public. Ashley Gantt was recently profiled by City Newspaper for her work in organizing, and now she's one of the most visible leaders in Rochester. Our guest:

The death of Daniel Prude has led to questions about how police are trained to handle a variety of situations. Marvin Stepherson retired as a police sergeant with 25 years of service in local law enforcement. He now teaches at Roberts Wesleyan, and comments regularly on police-community relations.

Stepherson talks about how he sees the Prude case and what kind of change is possible within police structures. Our guest:

  • Marvin Stepherson, professor of criminal justice at Roberts Wesleyan College, and retired police sergeant 

The Rochester Police command staff met with City Council members and Mayor Lovely Warren via Zoom on Thursday about the ongoing unrest in the city. 

There have been daily protests about the alleged coverup of the death of Daniel Prude after police restrained him in March. Some of those demonstrations ended with police firing pepper balls and using gas to disperse crowds last weekend. The last few protests ended quietly and officers didn’t use force.

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