Mayor says no permanent RPD chief until June, ‘I don’t think we would get a person that would come at this point in time’
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In three weeks, the Rochester Police chief leaves office. Thursday News10NBC got some direction on how and where the department leadership is going.
It happened in the briefing between the mayor, the chief and the city council.
The mayor told the city council that her plan is to get an interim chief by Sept. 29. And then have a permanent chief or start the national search for a permanent chief next June.
The mayor’s concern is this: A national search costs a lot of money and she doesn’t think anyone would take the job right now.
Chief La’ron Singletary and his command staff announced their retirement or their step down from a command post Tuesday afternoon.
The chief said he wasn’t going to stick around and let his reputation get tarnished.
The specific question from city council was: Is there a transition plan?
Chief Singletary: "I have not had any conversation with the mayor about that."
Mayor Warren: "My suggestion at this time is that we do an interim until after June of 2021. I would hate to do a national search to pay for a lot of money to do a national search for someone that would come in and I don’t think we would get a person that would come at this point in time."
The Zoom meeting between got heated when the RPD deputy chiefs started getting questioned on why police shot pepper balls and tear gas into peaceful protesters. The deputy chiefs say it’s because some protesters shot firecrackers and threw frozen water bottles at them.
This part of the Zoom meeting started when council member Mitch Gruber, who says he was hit by pepper balls in a protest over the weekend, questioned the police why they have to do that. The conversation lasted about 10 minutes. Here are portions that represent the conversation.
Gruber: "Is one incendiary object a license to for everyone to open fire on everyone?"
DC Mark Simmons: "You personally told me and forgive me if I’m paraphrasing it wrong ‘chief, I was there. I saw the crowd, I saw the agitators throw things at your people. I saw them throw fireworks and yeah, your guys showed restraint.’"
Gruber: "Let me clarify a couple of words you just used. I would never call them agitators. And I would never say you showed restraint… I’m not asking a question about who started what?… I’m asking about de-escalation versus escalating."
DC Simmons: "For weeks now, members of this council have been talking to the media saying the police are initiating the violence. So to gloss over it is incorrect and unfair to the officers on the line. So I think you owe those officers an apology."
DC Morabito: "If it wasn’t obvious just recently with your whole entire command staff something is missing. You need to pay attention to what’s going on."
The chief said there were no arrests and no pepper balls shot at the protest last night.
The council questioned the presence of police dogs at Wednesday night’s protest.
The chief said they belong to the State Police. He said RPD had no dogs. The mayor said she called the governor’s office to get them to ask State Police not to bring them.