News Release -- Mayor Warren Initiates Reform in Wake of Daniel Prude Death; Relieves Chief, Suspends Department Leaders

City of Rochester

News Release 

September 16 Revision: The Deputy Mayor's Memorandum has been revised to correct a statement misattributed to Municipal Attorney Shani Curry-Mitchell and clarify her role in the handling of the Freedom of Information Law request regarding this incident. See link to attached documents.

(Monday, Sept. 14, 2020) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren announced today that she has permanently relieved the Rochester Police Chief and suspended two Department leaders without pay for 30 days following a cursory Management Review of the City’s role in the death of Daniel Prude and subsequent actions. The review, prepared by Deputy Mayor James P. Smith, will lay the groundwork for a series of Citywide reforms. 

“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” said Mayor Warren. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout City government at every level.”

After reading the review, Mayor Warren relieved Chief La’Ron Singletary of his command and suspended Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj. Deputy Police Chief Mark Simmons will be the acting chief for the next 30 days. 

Mayor Warren is also holding herself accountable with a commitment to change the culture of policing in Rochester and improve the manner in which the City communicates with the public for greater transparency and accountability.

“I have apologized to the Prude Family and this community for the failures that happened along the way, including my own – As Mayor, I own these failures,” Mayor Warren said. “And as Mayor, I have an obligation, once identified, to do everything to fix them.”

Mayor Warren will move forward with eight recommendations from the review:  

  1. Direct the City Office of Public Integrity (OPI) to initiate a thorough investigation to determine if any employees – including herself – violated City or Departmental policies or ethical standards. OPI is instructed to refer any and all criminal or civil violations it may find to the appropriate authority, including an independent law enforcement agency. OPI is directed to be as transparent as possible with the public, City Council and the Mayor’s Office as they move forward with this investigation.
  2. Request the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to conduct an investigation into possible violations of Mr. Prude’s civil rights and bring appropriate charges if warranted.
  3. Engage an outside agency or agencies to review all training manuals, regulations and general orders that govern the conduct of Rochester police officers. This should include a specific review of areas outside the traditional realm of law enforcement, such as the accreditation standards for mental health professionals.
  4. Request that the U.S. Department of Justice conduct a thorough review of the Rochester Police Department, including a review of all Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage for use-of-force arrests conducted over the past three years. The findings must be made public.
  5. Engage an outside agency to review the City’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) process and possibly other functions, with an objective of greater transparency and openness.
  6. Seek formal clarification and written guidance on the release of public information during criminal investigations conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office to ensure that City policies are legal and fair while also maintaining complete public confidence that the City is acting in the interest of transparency and in keeping with the pursuit of justice.
  7. Enact a policy that the Mayor and Chief of Police will immediately announce to the public all criminal investigations of an RPD officer or arrest that have been initiated – including but not limited to those that are opened by the U.S. Attorney General, the New York State Attorney General’s Office (NYSAG), the Monroe County District Attorney or the RPD Major Crimes Unit.
  8. Adopt and embrace a robust process driven by an engaged public to bring systemic reform to the Rochester Police Department, City Hall and beyond to remove the pervasive culture of insularity and acceptance from law enforcement. This work must be coordinated and complement the work of the Commission on Race and Structural Equity. 




News Media: For more information, contact Deputy Mayor James Smith at 428-7135.