Mayor Lovely A. Warren has announced that she has permanently relieved the Rochester Police Chief and suspended two Department leaders without pay for 30 days following a cursory Management Review of the City’s role in the death of Daniel Prude and subsequent actions. The review, prepared by Deputy Mayor James P. Smith, will lay the groundwork for a series of Citywide reforms.
Warren also said she was be inviting the Department of Justice and a local watchdog to examine the city’s response to the incident, which was deemed a homicide.
“Frankly, the public should have been informed of Mr. Prude’s death and the circumstances that led to his death in March,” Warren said, promising reforms of her city’s police department, which she characterized as viewing “everything through the eyes of the badge.”
“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” said Mayor Warren. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout City government at every level.”
Mayor Warren will move forward with eight recommendations from the review:
1. Direct the City Office of Public Integrity (OPI) to initiate a thorough investigation to determine if any employees – including herself – violated City or Departmental policies or ethical standards. OPI is instructed to be as transparent as possible with this investigation.
2. Request the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to conduct an investigation into possible violations of Mr. Prude’s civil rights and bring appropriate charges if warranted.
3. Engage an outside agency or agencies to review all training manuals, regulations and general orders that govern the conduct of Rochester police officers.
4. Request that the U.S. Department of Justice conduct a thorough review of the Rochester Police Department. The findings must be made public.
5. Engage an outside agency to review the City’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) process and possibly other functions, with an objective of greater transparency and openness.
6. Seek formal clarification and written guidance on the release of public information during criminal investigations conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office to ensure that City policies are legal and fair.
7. Enact a policy that the Mayor and Chief of Police will immediately announce to the public all criminal investigations of an RPD officer or arrest that have been initiated.
8. Adopt and embrace a robust process driven by an engaged public to bring systemic reform to the Rochester Police Department, City Hall and beyond to remove the pervasive culture of insularity and acceptance from law enforcement.