ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Friday, July 8, 2022.


Rochester Police Accountability Board elects Larry Knox as board chair

Members of the Police Accountability Board announced in a live-streamed meeting that they have voted interim chair Larry Knox as the permanent chair of the PAB.

Knox represented the city’s northeast district since May after he was tapped by the city council to fill the vacant seat. He said, in this role, he will focus on furthering the mission of the board.

“I am grateful that my fellow Board members showed their confidence in my leadership by appointing me Chair,” said Knox. “But as we say all the time, the PAB is bigger than one person. It’s the work we have all put in, and continue to contribute that will make the PAB a success for the community.”

The members of the PAB also voted to elect Arlene Brown as the vice-chair of the board, succeeding Danielle Tucker. Board officials said Brown has been an active member of the Rochester community for almost 50 years.

“For all of the Board members we’re here to serve the community and we have a lot of work and were willing to put our shoulders to the wheel to get it done,” said Brown.

Members of the board also accused the City Council and Mayor Evans of preventing the agency from investigating nearly 100 complaints the board received. They said they were unable to gain access to body cam footage, personnel files, or other records to investigate reports of police misconduct.

They also discussed that the board had a vacant seat for over 60 days — which they blame the City Council for dragging their feet on appointing applying candidates.

“What’s holding back the work of the PAB right now is not our amazing staff, it’s not our board members, it’s the people who are supposed to be our allies and supporters in city government,” said Rev. Matthew Nickoloff.

‘I believe in him’: Evans appoints David Smith as new Rochester Police Chief

The City of Rochester appointed David Smith as the new chief of police. The former interim is the first permanent chief to lead the department in two years.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans hosted a press conference Thursday to announce his selection for the new police chief of Rochester.

“He buys into my belief, our belief, the city council’s belief, everyone’s belief into community-first public safety,” Evans said. “He’s been tapped to take on more responsibility and it has shown that people enlist their trust in him. I’m glad he is now a permanent member of this administration.”

Chief Smith was sworn as interim chief in October of 2021 after the resignation of former interim police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan. He has led the city’s police department since.

He served as the Deputy Chief of operations as part of Herriott-Sullivan’s command staff and has been with Rochester police since 1992.

“The process we went through to name a chief was very deliberate,” Evans said. “I spoke to possibly hundreds of people, I narrowed that list down to 25 individuals. I looked at all of them, and the entire time I was wondering, am I going to see David Smith in there? He did it, he threw his hat in the ring. Thank you, Dave.”

Rochester has not had a permanent police chief since September 2020, when La’Ron Singletary was fired after the death of Daniel Prude. Singletary announced his retirement shortly after news of Prude’s death became public, but was fired by Lovely Warren before the retirement took effect.

Mayor Evans announced a national search for the position in January of this year but ultimately chose someone internally for the position, despite various incidents that have brought controversy to the RPD.

“You want someone that knows the city, but at the same time, was not involved in previous challenges that we had. Someone that could help turn the page, but also someone if I said, ‘Let’s go walk on Garson Avenue,’ they wouldn’t have to get out a GPS to figure out where it was. So you want to be able to strike a balance,” Evans said.

Following the press conference, Chief David Smith said his priorities moving into the permanent role include hiring more officers, building his command staff, training, and tackling ongoing gun violence.

“We say it again, and again. The community needs to step up. I know, it’s not easy. I know there’s roadblocks to it. But we do all have to work together in a partnership,” Chief Smith said.

Chief Smith acknowledged the undertaking, noting the Rochester community has had a challenging history with the RPD but said he is up for the task.

“Since October, I’ve had people tell me, ‘I wouldn’t want your job’ or ‘I wouldn’t want to be you for all the money in the world.’ Well, I can tell you standing here today, there is no other place I would rather be,” Chief Smith said.

The mayor made his selection and other appointments to his leadership team at 9:30 a.m. Evans said the long-awaited decision would be made Thursday following a development press conference the previous day.

The city is currently on pace to match the record-setting violence seen in 2021 when Rochester recorded 81 homicides. On Tuesday, an altercation that later turned into a fight claimed the life of Willie Wofford, 24, who was shot and killed at the Trenton and Pamela Jackson R Center.

According to the police department’s data portal, it marked the 37th homicide this year.

“This violence is not something we’re going to be able to arrest ourselves out of,” Chief Smith said during a January press conference.

A sworn-in date has yet to be announced by the mayor’s administration. Despite that, the former interim is due to take over chief duties effective immediately.

Jennie Clark pleads guilty for 2021 crash that killed her husband

43-year-old Jennie Clark pled guilty to attempted murder and vehicular manslaughter for the death of her husband Matthew Clark.

Clark was charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree vehicular manslaughter and will be sentenced within the range of 18 to 23 years in the New York State Department of Corrections.

On the morning of July 4, 2021, in the Town of Ogden, Jennie Clark was driving with her husband and three children home when an argument ensued between Clark and her husband. She then drove off the road and crashed the vehicle into a telephone pole on the side of Colby Street.

Officials said that Matthew Clark was killed upon impact and the children were uninjured. Officers also determined that she was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

According to Monroe County D.A. Sandra Dooley, the case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Amanda Balling and Janna Koch, the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Special Investigations Bureau and Assistant District Attorney.

“Jennie Clark’s actions that caused the death of Matthew Clark showed no regard for the life of her husband and the safety of her children,” said Assistant District Attorney Balling. “This was a completely avoidable tragedy and unfortunately three children have lost their father. I hope the family is able to find some solace with this outcome and can continue to heal from this tragedy.”

9 regional cannabis stores identified for illicit sales by New York regulators

A total of nine cannabis stores in the Greater Rochester region were identified for illicit sales Thursday by state regulators.

According to the Office of Cannabis Management, three locations in Rochester, one in Henrietta, one in Lyons, one in Webster, one in Brockport, one in Rush, and another in Honeoye Falls were all cited in a list of 52 marijuana dispensaries that falsely depict their operations as legal.

  • Hempsol – Rochester
  • Custom Osmotics – Rochester
  • Triclomes LLC – Rochester
  • MJ Dispensary LLC – Henrietta
  • I’m Stuck – Lyons
  • Fat Daddy’s – Webster
  • Moonhaven Organics – Brockport
  • Carol Messina – Rush
  • Jeremy Fisher LLC – Honeoye Falls

The aforementioned businesses were sent cease and desist letters that direct them to halt operations or risk losing the opportunity for a legal license in the New York cannabis market.

If the affected store fronts fail to cease operations, they will be referred by the OCM to the Cannabis Control Board for permanent barring from receiving any cannabis licenses in New York State.

“There are no businesses currently licensed to sell adult-use cannabis in New York State.  Selling any item or making a donation, and then “gifting” a customer a bag of untested cannabis does indeed count as a sale under New York’s Cannabis Law,” said Tremaine Wright, Chair of Cannabis Control Board.

State legislation on cannabis sale, although new in nature, requires business owners to provide verifiable information to consumers regarding the products that they are consuming. According to OCM, the majority of the locations that received cease letters may put customers at risk.

Jon Callahan and Jeremy Jimenez with Honest Pham Co. in Newark farm the product — Callahan says what these shops are doing is illegal. 

“The bottom line is, if they want to participate in this legal market, they’re going to have to start doing it correctly,” says Callahan.

He says the stuff people are buying at these illicit shops isn’t tested. The products they’re now growing at Honest Pharm Co. will have to go through a rigorous panel test. 

“Test for molds, mildews, pesticides, heavy metals, obviously cannabinoids and terpenes,” he says.

No adult-use retail licenses have been issued in New York State to date. Currently, the only legal means of procuring, safe, tested cannabis products is through the Medical Cannabis Program.

OCM officials say they are reviewing an additional list of cannabis businesses after receiving referrals from local law enforcement and members of the general public.

Weather forecast: Clouds increase this afternoon

Our Friday sees a cold front dart southward through WNY, but will have much more bark than bite.

The Weekend: Saturday will feature abundant sunshine and temperatures in the lower and middle 70s. Sunday is just a sunny with highs near 80.