ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Police Department officials announced two policy changes Monday regarding a duty to intervene and a ban on chokeholds. These policies take effect immediately, according to RPD Capt. Mark Mura.

“The Rochester Police Department formally announces it is developing a series of new and revised policies which will be released to the public over the course of the next few weeks,” Capt. Mura said in a Monday press release. “These policy changes are part of Department’s commitment to better serving our community and are the result of a careful and extensive review of the existing policies. Two policy updates have now been completed, including Duty to Intervene and Chokeholds. These policies were rolled out to officers today and take effect immediately.”

Duty to Intervene:

  • All members have duty to intervene to prevent or stop any unreasonable use of force or other misconduct
  • Members failing to intervene can result in discipline or remedial measures
  • Any intervention must be reported to a supervisor as soon as practical
  • Supervisors must address the behavior

Chokehold ban:

  • Police Officers are prohibited from using chokeholds except in extreme circumstances where deadly physical force is authorized.
  • The policy includes information regarding the new NYS Penal Law – Aggravated Strangulation

Mura added that next week the department plans on releasing new policy measures for mental hygiene detention and de-escalation policy. In the weeks to follow the department plans to release new policies on use of force and juvenile detention.

“The releases are issued in a series to ensure proper disseminating and implementation, while allowing time for all RPD members to property train on and acclimate to the changes,” Mura said.

A 2020 executive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced all police departments statewide to provide community-approved policy measures by April 1, 2021 or risk losing state funding.

Duty to intervene

Chokehold ban

I think both of these new policies are going in the right direction,” said Cedric Alexander, former interim chief of the Rochester Police Department, “as we talk about reforming police in a way that’s going to be safe for everyone involved.”

“This becomes a cultural issue, not just a policy issue,” continued Alexander. “You can write a policy, but you have to have a culture that holds everyone inside that organization responsible.”

Conor Dwyer Reynolds, the Executive Director of Rochester’s Police Accountability Board, said the PAB was not consulted on the changes.

“Any policy is just a piece of paper unless there’s training,” said Reynolds, “to make sure officers know what to do and what not to do, unless there’s disciplinary consequences on the back end, so officers know exactly what will happen if they don’t do the right thing.”