Rochester City Council Approves Police Reform Plan

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Rochester City Council approved a future of policing plan Monday afternoon that proposes scrapping the current contract with the Rochester Police Locust Club union, trimming the size of the department over the next decade, immediately firing officers for cause, and overhauling New York’s Civil Service hiring system, reports the Democrat & Chronicle. The plan will be adopted in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order 203, which mandated every municipality conduct comprehensive reviews in the aftermath of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Within 60 days, the city proposes the development of new policies related to discriminatory enforcement patterns such as structural racism, pretextual stops and racial profiling. The plan proposes that Monroe County law enforcement agencies should cease the use of pretextual stops, which are stops for minor offenses to investigate other matters. The policing plan calls for a reduction in the RPD budget over the next three years.

In response to the controversial case of Daniel Prude, whose death in police custody last March triggered protests, the department will, by the end of the year, adopt new laws and policies related to breathing restrictions. There will be a ban on chemical weapons, such as tear gas, a mandate that other less-than-lethal resources will only be used as a last resort, and the phasing out of chemical irritants as other alternatives are developed.  Irritants cannot be used on children under the age of 15. The city also says the state’s Civil Service hiring system must be overhauled, claiming that the current system is biased toward communities of color. Finally, the plan calls for an increase in funding for alternative first responder systems to replace or supplement police with social workers and other non-police personnel and mandates a significant increase in the number of officers with Crisis Intervention Team training after the highly publicized pepper-spraying of a nine-year-old girl and the fatal shooting of a man armed with a knife outside a homeless shelter.

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