WXXI AM News

police accountability

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  

A member of Rochester City Council, Mary Lupien, joins us. She discusses why she had information about Daniel Prude's death before the public found out in September. We also discuss how Lupien and mental health professionals see the Prude case and the need for changes in who responds to emergency calls.

Our guests:

  • Mary Lupien, member of Rochester City Council
  • Melanie Funchess, mental health advocate, and member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group and the Black Healers Network
  • Chacku Mathai, mental health and substance use ex-patient, recovery advocate, member of the New York State Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council, and vice president for the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

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

Leaders across the community are responding to Rochester Police Department officers handcuffing and pepper spraying a nine-year-old girl on Friday. The incident has brought more national attention to policing in Rochester.

Reverend Lewis Stewart of United Christian Leadership Ministry and mental health advocate Melanie Funchess are among the leaders calling for comprehensive and culturally responsive mental health services, as well as for RPD to change its procedures involving minors. They join us this hour to discuss these issues and more. Our guests:

In October, the Rochester Police Accountability Board joined a city working group on police reform and reinvention. The PAB members were given some homework: to answer questions about the city’s policing practices and if public safety reforms are needed. The Board has drafted its recommendations, and now, it’s asking for community input.

We talk to PAB members about those recommendations and about the state of policing in Rochester. Our guests:

  • Conor Dwyer Reynolds, executive director of the Rochester Police Accountability Board
  • Shani Wilson, chair of the Rochester Police Accountability Board
  • Bob Harrison, member of the Rochester Police Accountability Board
  • Reverend Matthew Martin Nickoloff, member of the Rochester Police Accountability Board

On Tuesday evening, City Council unanimously approved Conor Dwyer Reynolds as the first executive director of Rochester's Police Accountability Board (PAB). That decision came after a tense confirmation hearing and questions about the board's independence.

We talk to Dwyer Reynolds and PAB Board Chair Shani Wilson about their goals for the PAB, and the state of police-community relations in Rochester. Our guests:

  • Conor Dwyer Reynolds, executive director of the Rochester Police Accountability Board
  • Shani Wilson, chair of the Rochester Police Accountability Board

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 

Former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson says the newly formed commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) was not informed of Daniel Prude’s death. Johnson says the commission has important work to do and can help lead the city forward. He joins us to talk about the Prude case and what we should expect of city leaders.

Our guest:

  • Bill Johnson, former Rochester mayor and co-chair of the RASE Commission

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