ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Thursday, August 18, 2022.

“Juneteenth Spoof”: Former RFD captain ‘did not think party was inappropriate’

Former Rochester Fire Department Captain Jeff Krywy did not think, the alleged racist mock Juneteenth party he is accused of bringing an on-duty firefighter to, was inappropriate according to an investigation conducted by the City of Rochester.

Krywy is believed to have forced three subordinates, including 14-year Black veteran Jerrod Jones, to attend a private Juneteenth spoof party while on the clock on July 7.

In his complaint, Jones said he was greeted at the lawn of the party by a life-size cutout of former President Donald Trump. Upon entering the property he saw a lady in a red wing who he said “seemed embarrassed” to see firefighters there, and quickly snatched the wig off her head.

Also on the lawn, Jones’s complaint states the party had large Juneteenth celebration flags propped up on the lawn, along with buckets of fried chicken. The veteran firefighter also recalled seeing a game of cornhole set up, with local politician Rachel Barnhart’s face as one of the targets.

At that point he noticed Krywy making his way into the party, talking to several people and receiving a party favor bag that contained cognac and a Juneteenth commemorative cup.

Krywy, who decided to retire from service after being told he must leave the RFD, was interviewed during the progress of the investigation on July 28 and recalled the following:

He said it is common to go out on nights and do some sort of training. He then stated he told the crew they had been invited to a “social event” around dinner time after starting his shift at 4 p.m.

In his statement, he recalled walking up to the party and seeing around 6-8 people. Jones in comparison said he saw about 12 to 15 people, including a familiar face of a former RPD officer who became “uncomfortable” when his name (Leo) was spoken out loud by Krywy.

Krywy continued on to say he “did not notice a theme to the party” but did see the faces of politicians such as Barnhart, Mary Lupien and PAB members, around the premise. His statement claims he did not think the pictures were derogatory and said no one at the party mentioned anything about being uncomfortable. He said he received a gift bag assorted with a tiny hat, a candle, a stuffed bear and a Hennessy bottle. The man also claimed he did not see KFC buckets nor Juneteenth flags.

In the latter stage of his interview, the former captain says he “did not think the party was inappropriate.” He categorized the function as a “community engagement function.”

The investigation determined the events that took place on July 7 violate the rules and regulations set out by the Rochester Fire Department. Furthermore, the report stated Krywy’s actions showed an extreme lack of judgment and recommended the department engages in diversity training.

Since the investigation began, Jones has spoken publicly about his intention to sue the City of Rochester and the Rochester Fire Department for discriminating against him because of his race.

Additionally, the alleged hosts of the party, identified as prominent local dentist Dr. Nicholas Nicosia and his wife have denied involvement, saying they “strongly disagree with how we [they] are being characterized.” The pair own the home the party took place in and have since cut ties with their fields of employment, with the Rochester Americans breaking ties with Nicosia, who was the team’s dentist, and Dr. Nicholas resigning from the Highland Hospital board of directors.

The Nicosias sent the following statement to News 8 on August 12:

“My wife Mary and I were surprised and disappointed about the allegations that have been made against us, and by the responses being posted on social media. We strongly disagree with how we are being characterized and are hopeful that the community will hold its judgment while we seek to clear our names. Highland Hospital has asked me to step down from its Board of Directors, and I have agreed to do so, so that I can focus my efforts on restoring our reputations.”

Rochester law enforcement prepare for safer school year

Local law enforcement agencies are hoping for a safe start to the new school year. A few months ago, some districts were faced with student-made threats online.

But over the summer, local police have been working with school districts to fine-tune security measures moving forward.

Back in June, several law enforcement agencies responded to a major situation with Gananda Central Schools.

An eighth-grader was charged with making a false report, and lying to authorities about an active shooter in the school. The incident was just a few weeks after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Wayne County Sheriff Robert Milby says before and after the incident, law enforcement officers have been working to help keep classrooms safe.

“We know kids thrive in a safe and secure environment. We’re in constant contact with our schools, in touch with them on a regular basis,” Sheriff Milby said.

Most recently, he’s been working with Gananda schools over the summer as they make some changes to security.

That includes a new app to help facilitate communication in the event of an emergency, tabletop drills and more.

“We assist them on a regular basis with lockdown drills, and make improvements and suggestions,” he said.

On the law enforcement side of things, training has been underway all summer.

“We have been training all summer long with all the officers in the county, state police,” Sheriff Milby said. “It’s a never-ending, ongoing training to make sure, should that call come out, we are all going to respond in a similar fashion.”

On Monday, News 8 spoke to Dr. Casey Kosiorek, President of the Monroe County Council of Superintendents. Kosiorek told us some districts are implementing more school resource officers, bullet-resistant windows, and stricter ways of monitoring social media.

“We are scouring everything we can to make sure everything is safe,” said Jonathan Payne, Deputy Sheriff with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “Back in the day, it might be a threat in the bathroom, we still get those, it could be a note passed.”

Payne says during the summer, they maintain training with multiple agencies, administrative staff and principals.

He says many districts express a strong desire for more SRO’s in the classroom; especially officers who can work on maintaining supportive relationships with students.

“Whether they travel to different buildings, walking around the halls, helping out with lunchtime; that can be chaotic at times,” he said. “It’s a presence in schools, to make sure everything is safe and help out with security teams of the schools.”

On Tuesday night, the Greece Central School District announced they put forth a proposal to increase SRO coverage from four days a week to five.

The town and the district are both figuring out how this would be paid for, and the situation is still under discussion.

Law enforcement agencies also assist districts in practicing lock-down and lock-out drills.

Rochester shooting victim placed in ICU after being shot on Campbell St.

A Rochester shooting victim is in stable condition and is currently placed in the ICU at an area hospital after being hospitalized with critical injuries Wednesday.

At around 6:30 a.m., authorities say officers responded to the 500 block of Campbell Street for the report of a man shot. Shortly after, a 31-year-old man arrived by car at Strong Hospital.

The victim sustained at least one gunshot wound to the upper body. His injuries are considered to be severe and potentially life-threatening, according to police.

Officials say the circumstances of the shooting are still under investigation. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 911.

Rochester doctors weigh in on latest FDA guidance for hearing aids

Access to hearing aids will soon become easier and more cost-effective, thanks to long-awaited approval by the FDA which will allow Americans to buy hearing aids without a prescription. 

“First and foremost, we’re just excited that people have access that may have not had access prior,” said Dr. Gregory Horton of the Rochester Hearing and Speech Center.

Come fall, those who may experience issues with their hearing will be able to invest in hearing aids over-the-counter and at other retail locations.

Dr. Horton says it was an anticipated decision, and one that was delayed over the last few years. He says it’s important, however, for patients to continue to follow through with their research.

“The steps to adopting hearing aids and being fitted with a hearing aid are more complicated typically than just getting a new pair of eyeglasses where you throw them on and you walk out the door. It’s really the follow-up care that comes with working with a professional,” said Dr. Horton.

The move follows years of pressure from medical experts and advocates across the U-S to make the devices cheaper and easier to get.

Doctors stress the aids are meant for those over 18, who experience mild to moderate hearing loss.

“I think it will open people’s eyes to start thinking about the process,” Chair of Communication Studies at RIT, Dr. Amanda Picioli, said. “If they feel this may be appropriate for them, then definitely give it a try and see if it works for them. I think this will open the door for a lot of people to at least give amplification a try if they’re on the fence about going to see someone.”

Those that are diagnosed with what is considered ‘severe’ hearing loss — will still require a prescription going forward. Doctors we spoke with stress while aids will be available over the counter, diagnostic evaluations with a professional are key.

Rochester man sentenced for actions during May 2020 BLM protests

A Rochester man has been given prison time for his actions during a May 2020 protest outside Rochester’s Public Safety Building, court officials announced Wednesday.

28-year-old Dyshika McFadden was given 30 months in prison for his actions during the peaceful Black Lives Matter rally that quickly turned violent on May 30, 2020.

Prosecutors say that at around 5:05 p.m., McFadden and others used an aerosol can and an open flame to set fire to an empty Rochester Police Department car parked near the building. The car was completely destroyed by the fire.

McFadden was convicted of civil disorder, and ordered to pay $4,287 in restitution.

The protests on Exchange Street coincided with protests around the nation following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

The Rochester protests began peacefully at around 1 p.m., but things turned tense after tear gas was deployed around 5 p.m. that evening.

The ensuing unrest ultimately resulted in vandalism, damaged property, looting, and fires.

Weather forecast: Warming up toward the weekend

Thursday will feature at least some chance at mainly afternoon downpours, but it’s diminishing returns by this point.