RPD chief: 'Kudos' to protester, police response Tuesday night

RPD chief: 'Kudos' to protester, police response Tuesday night

Emily Putnam
Updated: February 24, 2021 06:03 PM
Created: February 24, 2021 02:10 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said Wednesday she gave protesters and officers "kudos" for their actions during protests in response to the grand jury decision in the Daniel Prude case Tuesday night.

During a briefing Wednesday afternoon, Herriott-Sullivan commended the protesters, saying "I enjoyed seeing that people were able to protest and get their points across, and our staff just stepped back and made sure that people are able to do so safely," and added her officers "just stepped back" as protesters made their way through the streets of Rochester.

Herriott-Sullivan attributed Tuesday's peaceful protests to an increase in communication between RPD and the community. 

"We made an announcement upfront several weeks ago, letting people know what our plan was so they understood the rules of engagement," said Herriott-Sullivan. "It's really hard to hold people accountable for not doing what you wanted them to do when you haven't told them what it is that you want them to do."

She added officers were just following a plan. 

"When people are peacefully protesting and no laws are getting violated, nobody's getting hurt, our response Is minimal, there's nothing for us to do," Herriott-Sulivan said. "I enjoyed seeing that people were able to protest and get their points across."

She previously addressed protest response during a news conference last month, as Rochester's Police Accountability Board launched its investigation into the department's policies.

Protesters started with a gathering on Jefferson Avenue before beginning to march. The group hopped barricades to reach a police substation on Child and Campbell streets before eventually moving onto a portion I-490 from the Child Street exit, the group ended the march at the Public Safety Building on Exchange Boulevard. 

When protesters reached the substation, RPD reported officers showed "incredible composure while taking verbal attacks." The chief said she understood the protester's frustrations, to which the department deployed "a certain team of resources and people" to try and speak with protesters.

Additionally, the department worked in unison with New York State Police and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Herriott-Sullivan said troopers took the lead on the march down I-490, which Chief Herriott-Sullivan said was a "surprise" that was quickly handled by State Police. 

"I mean, they were all over that," said Herriott-Sullivan. "They made sure nobody got hurt because we didn't get a full notice from the protesters, some of that was part of mainly a surprise."

While at the Public Safety Building, some protesters climbed over the barricades and gathered at the front door of the building, according to the RPD. The hopping of barricades drew warnings of an "unlawful assembly" from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

The chief said hopping the barriers was not something officers would engage in. Previously, officers used chemical agents like gas, and/or munitions like pepper balls, which Herriott-Sullivan said will only now be used as a "last resort" and that those tactics are "severely restricted" in RPD's policy. Herriott-Sullivan said they would only be used if "someone's safety or life is at risk." Neither were used Tuesday night.

Ultimately, no protester or police injuries were reported, and there were no announced arrests.

The department worked in unison with New York State Police and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Herriott-Sullivan said troopers took the lead on the march down I-490.

The chief added as long as protesters are "safe," RPD's plan will stay in place. She also alluded to a possible meeting with Attorney General Letitia James later Wednesday but did not disclose any further information.

You can view the full briefing in the player below.


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