RPD union supports new interim chief, department sees 34 retirements and 0 new hires

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The RPD union says it’s ready to work with the new interim police chief. Over the weekend, Mayor Lovely Warren named former lieutenant Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan as the new head of the RPD.

She starts on Oct. 14.

Herriott-Sullivan takes over a department in turmoil. Seven officers are suspended over the death of Daniel Prude. The entire command staff is gone by this week and the RPD’s data shows a person gets shot in Rochester on average almost every single day.

But Monday, News10NBC watched the incoming interim chief get an olive branch from the police union.

"I look forward to working with Cindy," Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said. "I think she’s somebody who can sit down and will work, want to work together to get things done better."

Saturday, Mayor Warren picked Herriott-Sullivan to be interim chief. She replaces La’Ron Singletary who the mayor fired two weeks ago.

"I love this city and I’m going to it my 110, 120, 140, 150 percent effort," Herriott-Sullivan said.

Herriott-Sullivan grew up in RPD and reached the rank of lieutenant, assigned to the chief’s office. Part of her job was to investigate in-custody deaths.

She retired in 2009 to run anti-violence groups and was a top official at the Rochester Housing Authority.

"We are facing a lot of challenges right now and our staffing is a problem," Mazzeo said.

Herriott-Sullivan is taking over a department in a storm over the death of Daniel Prude six months ago, a death that was not revealed to the public and a death that sparked a month of protest.

And it’s a department losing people.

Look at these numbers: 34 officers retired this year. Not a single new officer has been hired.

Here are the numbers of retirements and new hires for the last four years:

Hired Retired
2017 29 21
2018 22 31
2019 24 30
2020 0 34

The RPD union says retirements are out-pacing new hires so much, the department is short 41 officers.

The Locust Club also says the number of people taking the civil service test is down.

The union numbers are:

  • 2019: 1,048 applied to take the test. 312 were city residents.
  • 2020: 891 applied to take the test. 224 were city residents, 420 showed up and took the test.

The city says that some of the test-taking is delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brean: "In terms of safety, how do your officers feel right now when they show up to work?"

Mike Mazzeo: "It’s a difficult time. We have staffing issues, certainly."

The new recruit class starts in October. It’s capped at 19 students. That cuts into about half of the retirements.

Click here for full coverage on the death of Daniel Prude.