PAB recommending changes to RPD’s new guidelines on dealing with protests

PAB calls for adjustments to RPD policies on protests

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester Police Accountability Board says there’s room for improvement on how the Rochester Police Department deals with protests.

The PAB hosted an online public input session today, gathering recommendations for changes to the RPD’s guidelines on how to deal with mass gatherings. The guidelines were developed in 2022 following the unrest and riots in 2020 after the death of Daniel Prude, who died after being physically restrained by city officers.

The PAB says the RPD’s policy is a good step forward but needs to be tightened up, with any ambiguity nailed down, with improvement needed in the areas of planning and communication; weapons and tactics; and accountability.

“We want to make sure this policy is updated and in place for anything that might happen. Like, there’s obviously no predicting when there might be a next series of protests and potentially chaotic interplay between the police and the public. So we want to make sure that these policies that are in place now, while representing a great step forward, they could be updated to improve, we think, in a number of areas that we highlighted,” said Will Cleveland, PAB oversight manager.

Recommendations from PAB include that all officers wear body cameras during protests; that offiers not interfere with people legally recording protests; and that the use of tear gas and flash bang grenades be prohibited. The PAB also called for the RPD to get formalized mutual aid agreements with other police agencies that operate in the city to make sure they’re on the same page; and to publish detailed criteria for determining whether police need to order a crowd to disperse, among other recommendations.

More input sessions are planned for later this month, on Feb. 8, 15 and 22. These sessions will be held in-person at 245 E. Main St.