Rochester City Council calls on RPD to ban tear gas in protest response as Prude decision handed down

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester City Council called on the Rochester Police Department Tuesday to change the way it responds to protests, in an attempt to improve police/community relations.

City Council sent its plan to the department in a letter moments before New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced the Rochester police officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude will not face charges.

The City Council plan includes three requests:

  1. Ban the use of chemical agents, such as tear gas, and flashbangs on protesters
  2. Establish clear “Rules of Engagement” for all peaceful protests that will act as a memorandum of understanding between RPD and the community at-large.
  3. Establish a RPD “Posturing Protocol” for crowd control scenarios

City Council asked RPD to clearly define its “rules of engagement,” or the circumstances under which a gathering or protest would be considered an “unlawful assembly,” and what specifically it would take for measures such as “rubber bullets” to be deployed.

City Council also requested a more considered “posturing protocol,” saying:

Ultimately, we believe that RPD does not deescalate situations when they stand outside in riot gear in order to protect a building. For example, we prefer to see the public safety building protected from inside rather than outside. This protocol can make the decision to come outside clear and transparent.

City Council requested the department make these changes immediately. A community gathering is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday on Jefferson Avenue in Rochester, where Prude’s encounter with police took place.

Read City Council’s full letter to the Rochester Police Department:

City Councilmember Jose Peo, who did not sign the letter, sent out a separate statement saying:

“Today, February 23rd Rochester City Council issued a Memo to Chief Herriott-Sullivan, City of Rochester Police Department, regarding limiting RPD’s possible responses to potential violent protests in our community as a result of Attorney General James announcement to the investigation into the death of Daniel Prude. I have the upmost confidence in Chief Herriott-Sullivan in regards to her ability to lead (and discipline) the Rochester Police Department, and refused to sign any directive from untrained politicians on how to do her job.

As a good example of her leadership, there was a recent protest at the Clinton Section’s Precinct, and at no time were any aggressive tactics used against the protesters.

If City Council wishes to make any meaningful change, they should do it in the legislative process and not by issuing unenforceable, useless Memos.

Statement from Councilmember Jose Peo

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