Mayor announces David Smith as next RPD chief

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Mayor Malik Evans announced that David Smith will be the next chief of the Rochester Police Department. He also announced new appointments to his leadership team.

Evans delivered the announcement at a Thursday morning press conference at City Hall. Smith is the current interim chief of the RPD.

Evans said that Smith has a good relationship with the mayor’s office and Rochester City Council. He chose Smith because of his experience with using community engagement to help solve crimes and because he’s familiar with Rochester’s communities.

"This is the toughest time to be a mayor, I believe, in probably the last 100 years," Evans said. "It’s a lonely job, but the job is made better, is made easier when you have committed strong dedicated partners."

Smith has worked in law enforcement for 30 years and started as an office who patrolled around Genesee Street. He will lead a police department that is down 80 officers, as the city and the country deals with gun violence.

"I don’t know how many times since October I’ve had people tell me ‘I wouldn’t want your job or I wouldn’t want to be you for all the money in the world.’," Smith said. "Well, I can tell you standing here today, there is no other place I would rather be."

Among the other city appointees that Evans announced was Carla Johnson, who will implement recommendations of the Race and Structural Equity (RASE) commission. For the deputy chief for community engagement role, Evans picked Keith Stith, a former detective in New Jersey.

Smith led a nationwide recruitment campaign to find a chief after Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan resigned from the role last October. Former Chief Herriott-Sullivan left the role after serving for 13 months to take a job with the Rochester Housing Authority. Smith then took over her role.

Former chief La’Ron Singletary was fired in September of 2020 in the fallout of the death of Daniel Prude. The city settled in a lawsuit in Febuary that alleged the wrongful termination of Singletary.