Rochester Police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan works last day before resignation

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) —Wednesday marks the last day on the job for Rochester Police Chief Cynthia-Herriott Sullivan, roughly a year after she took on the role.

The chief last week announced she would resign from her position to pursue a new opportunity in the private sector with the Rochester Housing Authority, an organization she previously worked with.

Herriott-Sullivan was appointed to the role at the end of September 2020, following the firing of former chief La’Ron Singletary in the fallout of the Daniel Prude case. The city says she initially committed to holding the position until June 2021.

Deputy Chief of Operations David Smith will now handle the interim role until the new mayor makes a long-term selection.

Herriott-Sullivan’s accomplishments include:

  • Launching the website, which aims to help solve the nearly 600 cold cases in Rochester.
  • Helping to revise policies, including the Duty to Intervene, Chokehold Ban, new Mental Hygiene Detention policy and De-escalation policy.
  • Revising the department’s use of force policy and creating a new use of force for juveniles policy.
  • Creating a new video format for critical incident briefings.
  • Updating the department’s protest response plan.
  • Evaluating officer training and emphasizing the need for more education on compassion fatigue, de-escalation, mindset training, race relations, pediatrics, ethics, leadership, crisis intervention, excited delirium and mental and behavioral health response.
  • Creating the Chief’s Advisory Board.
  • Implementing violence reduction initiatives, including enhanced foot and bike patrols and targeted anti-violence details, including initiatives with federal partners.

The chief’s exit does come amid an investigation of the department by the New York Attorney General’s Office following a deadly police shooting during an attempted robbery last Wednesday. The shooting marked the fourth deadly RPD incident in 2021.

On her last day, the chief sent a statement on the incident to defend the department’s handing over the release of bodycam footage.

Following her resignation announcement, city leaders, including Mayorr Lovely Warren and Presumptive Mayor Malik Evans thanked the chief for her service and shared their confidence in Smith’s ability to take on the role.

Smith will become the fifth police chief to serve under Mayor Lovely Warren.

When she took office in 2014, she gave the position to then-interim chief Michael Cimnelli. He served until 2018. At that time, Mark Simmons was given the interim tag.

In 2019, La’Ron Singletary took over. His tenure lasted until a little after the Daniel Prude case was made public last year. Warren ended up firing Singeltary before he went into an early retirement.

That resulted in another interim stint for Simmons before Cynthia Herriot-Sullivan took over last year.