'Being called monsters and murderers... takes a toll': RPD staffing hit with retirements, transfers | WHEC.com

'Being called monsters and murderers... takes a toll': RPD staffing hit with retirements, transfers

Berkeley Brean
Created: June 16, 2021 06:49 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester Police Department is trying to respond to increased shootings and murders while dealing with a staffing problem.

The Rochester Police Locust Club, which is the police union, says almost every officer is working double shifts because so many officers have retired, transferred out, or been pulled from the road. 

In the last year and a half, 65 members of RPD have either retired or transferred out of RPD. 

Adam Devincentis, VP Rochester Police Locust Club: "To suddenly being called monsters and murderers on a daily basis, it takes a toll where officers say, you know what? I can't take this anymore."

Here are the numbers Devincentis shared with me. 

Hired Retired/Transferred 
2017 29 21
2018 22 31
2019 23 30
2020 16 41
2021 0 24 (as of June 1)
Total 90 147 (-57)

There are 340 patrol officer positions in RPD. Forty positions are vacant. Another 53 are officers who are injured, on military duty, or — like the officers connected to the death of Daniel Prude or the pepper-spraying of a 9-year-old in the winter — on administrative leave. 

Last year, the city cut its academy class in half. That's why RPD only hired 16 new cops, and those recruits won't be on patrol for another three months.

Devincentis: "In those three months, we'll have more than 16 retirements and we've already had 24."

The issue came up Tuesday night when the city council passed the budget. The budget cuts RPD's budget by $4 million but pays for a future recruit class of 30.  There is no academy class scheduled until 2022.

"My constituents have not asked me to reduce the police department. They have not knocked down my door to, actually, to be quite honest with you - they want the police," said Willie Lightfoot, Vice President City Council. "Do I think we should be cutting the police department or the recruit class now when crime is up more than ever before? That's ridiculous."

City Council member Mary Lupien tried a last-minute proposal to shift more money from police to recreation, neighborhood groups and libraries. 

"Through a decrease in RPD personnel, through attrition, as officers retire," she said. "I make a motion to introduce the amendment."

"Is there a second?" asked Loretta Scott, President City Council. 

There was none and the motion failed. 

Brean: "Last year, and to some extent this year, we heard calls to defund the police. It looks like it's happening naturally in the department."

Devincentis: "I wouldn't use the word naturally at all. It's very purposefully. If we're not hiring cops someone is making that decision. By not hiring cops, we're not replacing them."

The pool of applicants for RPD's next academy class is 428. 

When Devincentis applied about 20 years ago, he was in a pool of 1,500.

The union says there are 200 members of RPD eligible to retire right now with only 15 days' notice.


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