ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The president of Rochester’s police union, the Rochester Locust Club, says his officers aren’t safe on the street.
Mike Mazzeo says 100 officers have been injured over the past ten months.
Mazzeo tells News 8 that officers are being injured while trying to get people to follow verbal commands. Usually, he says, these things occur when officers are responding to 9-1-1 calls that need more than one police officer.
“When we look at what’s occurring, the number of officers being hurt that’s where city council, city hall, and the chief’s office should be looking into with concern,” said Mazzeo.
Mazzeo says the attack on Officer Denny Wright could have been prevented. The 23-year police veteran was stabbed multiple times in the head and face. He responded to a 9-1-1 call alone.
“There’s a need to have two officers in a car,” said Mazzeo. “There’s the ability for officers to be able to assess as well. When one person is directly dealing with someone. To have a second officer to watch, look, assess, while one officer is engaging.”
The RPD adopted a “two officers to a patrol car” policy nine days after the attack on Officer Wright. Last week another RPD officer was assaulted on First Street.
The assault came two days after the policy was stopped. A move Mazzeo doesn’t understand.
“So I can’t understand any logic that will say for a period of time it makes sense to have two officers in a car,” said Mazzeo. “Now it’s okay to have one. What has changed?”
Mazzeo says RPD can fix the problem by reinstating the policy. He says officers need extra protection.
“We have to ensure that these officers are safe,” said Mazzeo. If they are not safe no one is safe in this community.”
In a statement Chief La’ron Singletary said, “In law enforcement there are always safety issues and or challenges that an agency must contend with. Law enforcement agencies do their best to mitigate those challenges as they present themselves. The RPD typically operates in a single person patrol capacity and there are times when two person patrols occur (e.g., special details, the tactical unit which predominately does proactive police work). There are a number of factors that go into a police department choosing to operate in a certain capacity (single person or two person). The policy for two officers to respond to a priority one call has not changed, whether we operate in a two person patrol car response or a single person patrol car response. I can assure you, if there was a 100% for sure way to guarantee that an officer would not get hurt in the course of their duties, we would be doing it. It is unfortunate that people continue to choose to resist arrest by fighting with police officers; officers who are trying to do a dangerous job.”
According to police the unidentified officer was taken to Highland Hospital and treated for minor bruises.
Officer Denny Wright is still in a local rehabilitation facility recovering from his serious injuries.