Mayor Warren announces Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan to serve as new interim Rochester police chief

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Former RPD Lieutenant becomes first female chief in RPD history

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren held a press conference at Rochester City Hall late Saturday morning to announce a new interim chief of police.

Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan will serve as the new interim Rochester Police Chief. Sullivan’s term will begin October 14, replacing current interim Police Chief Mark Simmons.

MORE | Former RPD chief weighs in on Mayor’s choice for interim chief

Herriott-Sullivan is a Rochester native and is familiar with what city residents need and how younger generations can flourish, officials say.

“She [Herriott-Sullivan] will have the ability to bridge the gap between the people and police in our community,” Warren said.

“I love this city,” Herriott-Sullivan said in a statement. “I was born and raised in Rochester and am the proud daughter of Henry and Rosanna Herriott. I am a woman of faith who believes strongly in problem-solving that involves developing sustainable solutions through collaborations and partnerships. These are difficult times for the city of Rochester, and other communities as well. I will do my best to put my experience and commitment to good use in helping Rochester move forward. We will all need to bring our best to the table. Let’s work together and get it done.”

Herriott-Sullivan is a former RPD Lieutenant who rose through the ranks before her retirement from the force in 2009. She now becomes the first female to hold the position of chief in RPD history, which has been around for more than 200 years.

Herriott-Sullivan has been employed at Rochester Housing Authority (RHA) since 2016, originally working in the areas of compliance, diversity, inclusion and public safety.  She currently serves as RHA’s Interim Deputy Executive Director, a position she has held since April 2019.

Prior to joining the staff at RHA, Herriott-Sullivan held a number of positions, including Chief Operating Officer at Seamless Communications Group, Chief Executive Officer at Rise Up Rochester, and Management Consultant at both CHS Project Management

Earlier this month, protesters gathered outside City Hall to say they want Simmons to be removed from his position, citing an incident back in 2005.  Records show then police officer Simmons shot a 13-year-old girl who charged her sister and Simmons with a knife.

Warren also announced two new appointments to the RPD Command staff. Captain Person was appointed to Deputy Chief of Operations. Person has been a part of the RPD since 2005. Officer Moses Robinson was also appointed. Robinson has been a part of the RPD since 1985.

Free the People ROC organizers say that the new appointments don’t address the deep structural issues in policing. In a statement Saturday, organizers said:

“Lovely Warren’s decision to appoint a new interim Police Chief and Command Staff doesn’t address the deep structural issues in policing. Nothing short of a complete transformation will address the problems we see every day.  Our demands are clear and Lovely Warren has done exactly nothing to meet the demands of the people.  This is what we continue to fight for:

1) Fire and prosecute Mark Vaughn, Troy Talladay, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, Paul Ricotta, and Sgt. Michael Magri and revoke their pensions.

2) Drop the criminal charges against all protestors arrested since May 30th.

3) Daniel’s Law – Pass legislation prohibiting police from responding to mental health calls. The state must ensure an emergency response system that puts trained mental health providers in the lead to respond and direct care in a mental health crisis not police.

4) We demand the immediate resignation of Lovely Warren, Deputy Mayor James Smith, Mike Mazzeo, and Sandra Doorley.

5) Defund and demilitarize RPD”

“We are asking for defunding, and instead we keep getting new Black figureheads you put blame on to hold accountable when the system continues to not work as its supposed to,” said Free the People ROC organizer Stanley Martin. “I want us to think critically, and not just because we have a Black woman that doesn’t mean that’s progress — it means she’s holding a white supremacist space and her title will only allow her to continue a system of white supremacy. So yes we can see that she’s a Black woman, but we can also be critical of anyone who fills the seats of police chief because police chiefs are historically slave catchers and abusers of our rights so anyone who comes in this position we will continue to be critical of.”

Rochester Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Monday to address the new interim chief appointment.

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