RPD Concerns Increase as Officers Who Pepper Sprayed Child Face No Charges


Major turnout at the recent meeting of McQuaid Jesuit’s Mosaic Club

On Feb. 4, USA Today reported on an incident in which a small 8-year-old girl was pepper sprayed by a Rochester Police Officer. This further worked to incite anger towards the RPD from the community.

This is just the latest chapter in the story of the recent troubles of the Rochester Police Department. Community members have long fought for change inside the department, but following the Sep. 2 release of footage containing the death of a mentally-ill black man named Daniel Prude, pressure for change has been ramping up.

“Obviously the way in which the RPD conducted both arrests were wrong. The police are there to protect and serve the people, when that standard isn’t being met it’s a frightening thing,” says Jerome Job ‘22 of McQuaid Jesuit High School’s Mosaic Club.

Job helps lead many of the ‘Social Justice’ clubs at McQuaid, most notably the Black Student Union, and the Mosaic Club. Students at the school, along with many people in the Rochester community want change within the RPD.

In response to the outcry for action, interim Rochester Police Chief Herriot-Sullivan released her ‘90 Day Fact-Finding Plan’, but has been seemingly reluctant to take further action to restore trust within the community.

“There is always more that can be done. I appreciate and recognize the effort Chief Herriot-Sullivan has made but one thing that I feel the RPD would greatly benefit from is implementing actual training that deals with situations that deal with mental health crises”, says Job.

According to WHAM, on March 1, Mayor Lovely Warren, Interim Chief Herriot-Sullivan, and City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot, met via telephone to discuss the future of the RPD. One of the topics discussed was to give the ability to immediately fire officers following an incident to the Rochester Police Department. This proposal was supported by 73 percent of those in attendance.

Community leaders who seek change want everyone to commit to doing better, a sentiment that is supported by Job.

“I believe that the best thing any man or woman can do within or outside of McQuaid is to continually improve themselves as a person. By putting more effort in yourself and pushing yourself to be better and better everyday you are making a substantial difference in the world.”