Rochester police union fighting city’s plans to reorganize department

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester police union members are fighting back against a police department reorganization plan that would do away with downtown’s central section patrol division.

At a press conference Thursday, RPD Locust Club officers made it clear that doing away with one of the department’s five patrol sections would demoralize officers and not make the city any safer.

“This serves no purpose other than to say we are doing something,” Locust Club president Michael Mazzeo said. He said the city’s proposed RPD reorganization plan is a step backward.

“We can’t even afford to even lose one (officer) right now. The inability to effectively hire, and now certainly in the last couple years effectively retain, every officer we have right now is of great importance,” Mazzeo said.

The City of Rochester has been looking at restructuring the police department for the last year. Currently, police patrol five sections: downtown, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest. The plan calls for doing away with the central section and creating two new units. The city is mum on those details right now.

Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo says the proposal is demoralizing, that officers feel left out, and that this will only destabilize the police force, which is already down officers.

Mazzeo also says doing away with the central section is counterproductive to enticing more people and businesses to come downtown

“You are going to find it difficult to entice businesses to come into the area if they don’t see a police presence, they don’t feel there is a safety issue, they don’t feel like they can walk during the day and at night without safety concerns,” Mazzeo said.

The Locust Club also says City Hall is “rushing this reorganization.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Mazzeo urged the city to reconsider and listen to the needs of officers.

“To put something in place that just adds complete frustration is more demoralizing than what they have faced by being so short-staffed and overworked,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, the city says the plan gives it more flexibility, while addressing staffing shortages and trends in violence. It points out that Locust Club leadership has postponed or declined nearly half a dozen meetings on the issue in recent weeks — indicators of a divide between the city and officers that goes deeper than a planned reorganization.

“My hope is that we can convince the city to get on track here. We’ve come through every step here saying we are willing and ready to cooperate. We are at the point now that when we are getting responses back that we have to demand the public step up,” Mazzeo said.

News10NBC reached out to the city Thursday for additional details about the plan and was told more information would be available once the plan is formalized.