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Rochester Police Department Draws Fire at Council Meeting

August 22nd, 2012

Richard Yaniak spoke to City Council last night while wearing an 'anonymous' mask. He spoke about the Rochester Police Department and officers' handling of demonstrators during a July 21 Occupy Rochester march.
I attended last night’s City Council meeting to speak in opposition to proposed changes to Rochester’s Zoning Code. About 5 or 6 people spoke against the changes. No vote was taken on that issue this time around. So we’ll wait and see if the Mayor makes changes to his changes, or if Council will vote at a later date. In the meantime, the other HOT topic in Council’s chambers this night was community relations with the Rochester Police Department.

Police Chief Sheppard was in attendance, as was Mayor Richards to acknowledge the service of several 9-1-1 dispatchers and a RPD officer who were retiring. And during the 1-hour “Speak to Council” session where the public has a chance to speak on any topic of concern, at least 8 to 10 individuals called into question the actions and practices of the RPD – including one guy wearing an infamous mask for dramatic effect…

Lisa Jacques spoke about the Rochester Police Department and how their 'Point System' actually discourages businesses from calling the police.One speaker called into question the RPD’s Points System where businesses are given points for disruptive incidents for which the police are called. Too many points (three, I believe) and the business can be fined or even shut down. Lisa Jacques, from the Good Business Association external link argued that this policy punishes businesses and discourages them from calling the police. The image to the right is the flyer Lisa passed around during the hearing. She believes that the killing of Deavoughn Hernandez-Ruffin on June 17 during a fight at the Bug Jar could have been prevented had owners felt free enough to call the police as soon as that fight broke out. [ View the petition to repeal Rochester’s Points System external link ] I found this to be one of the more thought-provoking issues raised. I can see why RPD would want to limit the number of unnecessary calls for things like noise complaints and the like. But who wants their business to be shut down for calling the cops too many times? I might take my chances and let the drunks duke it out on the sidewalk.

Several people also spoke out against the RPD for questionable arrests and “brutality” while breaking up a July 21 Occupy Rochester anti-capitalism protest. You might remember Emily Good from her highly publicized brush with the law in her front yard external link a little over a year ago. This is what Emily had to say…

One speaker, Richard Yaniak, was even sporting an an ‘anonymous mask’ made popular by the V for Vendetta external link comic book series and 2006 movie in which a mysterious masked revolutionist plots to bring down government. Richard says that he felt insulted by a recent Youtube video in which Chief Sheppard urges the community to get involved external link and work with the police to help reduce violence…

And Alex White, former mayoral candidate for the Green Party of Monroe County also weighed in saying there are good reasons why people don’t call the police…

Man oh man, I have to start coming to more of these Council meetings. This was quite entertaining. You should too!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 at 8:05 am and is filed under Rochester News, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “Rochester Police Department Draws Fire at Council Meeting”

  1. Highly recommend Alex’ podcast “Transforming Rochester”. A couple of these have been discussed in detail.

  2. In a related story posted by City Newspaper today, Changes coming to the way Rochester handles complaints against police. Public meeting tomorrow night.

  3. Adam says:

    Great points on the “Point System.” I hadn’t really thought about the dis-incentive to call the police, but you are right. It certainly seems backwards to some degree. I understand the RDP’s motivation – and you need metrics to manage anything – but this does seem a little backwards.


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