Friday 30 September 2022
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Chief Herriott-Sullivan Leaves RPD

By Tyronda James

RPD Interim Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan at a Nov. 3, 2020 news conference about her 90-day transition plan. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

Rochester Police Department Chief, Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan is retiring 

Mayor Lovely Warren made the announcement Wednesday, noting that Chief Herriott-Sullivan submitted her resignation letter earlier, stating she would be pursuing a new opportunity in the private sector.

Deputy Chief of Operations David M. Smith will serve as Interim Chief for the Department beginning October 13.

“Chief Smith is a respected law enforcement leader with decades of experience, as well as a clear understanding of the needs and concerns of our community,” Warren said. “I am confident he will serve Rochester well.”

Herriott-Sullivan who made history as the first female to hold the position of Chief for the RPD after her appointment as interim Superintendent on September 26, 2020, will remain in her post as Interim Chief of the Rochester Police Department until October 13, 2021. 

She was a former RPD Lieutenant, who served close to 25 years before her retirement in 2009. 

“I am proud of the growth and accomplishments RPD members have achieved, while faced with many challenges. I care deeply about this city, my home, and it has been an honor to work together with officers and the community to build stronger bonds, trust, transparency and communication,” she said. “I have faith that this collaborative effort will continue, because there’s more work to be done, and we can’t get there alone or on separate paths.” 

Prior to accepting the Interim Chief position, Herriott-Sullivan served as Interim Deputy Executive Director for the Rochester Housing Authority (RHA), where she held several roles, including in the areas of compliance, diversity, inclusion, and public safety, since 2016. 

Over the past year Chief Herriott-Sullivan guided a variety of policing reform initiatives from new officer training programs to policy revisions and the redesign of the department, with community input and approval, as part of the New York State Governor’s Executive Order 203. Additional achievements include:

  • website – An initiative launched in September 2021 aimed at engaging the community in solving Rochester’s nearly 600 cold cases.
  • Four revised policies that went into effect earlier this year, including Duty to Intervene, Chokehold Ban, Mental Hygiene Detention, and De-escalation.
  • Use of Force (revised) and Use of Force for Juveniles (new) policies were announced in August and will be rolled out later this year.
  • Critical Incident Briefings – In February, RPD released the CIB, a new video format outlining aspects of a critical incident and what the viewer is seeing, why certain tactics were used, etc.
  • Protest Response Plan – RPD spoke to members of the community that participated in last year’s protests. A plan was then developed to highlight communication between the community and the police department, which was implemented in January 2021. 
  • Officer Training – A full evaluation of officer training was conducted, with the need for additional educational programing on compassion fatigue, de-escalation, mindset training, race relations, pediatrics, ethics, leadership, crisis intervention, excited delirium and mental and behavioral health response identified. The Robert E. Craig Institute for Ethical Leadership launched on April 28, 2021. During FY 2021-2022, and annually thereafter, additional training will be executed, including Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).
  • Chief’s Advisory Board – A group of professionals that provides knowledge and expertise as needed to address areas that impart the message of the need for trust and transparency by members of the Department.
  • Violence Reduction Initiatives –Implemented additional foot and bike patrols and anti-violence details to target locations where violent crime is most prevalent, based upon real-time data and analytics. Section captains also developed individual anti-violence strategies for their sections. An additional violence reduction initiative was initiated that involved working with federal partners to target violent gun offenders. RPD has met with numerous community and faith-based groups, including Rise up Rochester, RocACTS and St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, to identify opportunities for the community to assist in reimagining safety and community relationships. As a result, a collaborative draft action plan has been developed that will be executed throughout FY 2021-2022 through the Department’s Community Affairs Bureau

“I accepted the position of Interim Chief to make real, systemic change on the force, and I can say confidently that we’ve come a long way this past year,” said Interim Chief Herriott-Sullivan. 

“I want to thank Interim Chief Herriott-Sullivan for her many years of service to the Rochester Police Department. She stepped up and served as Interim Chief during a challenging time for the Department. She should be commended for embracing the challenge,” said Rochester’s Presumptive Mayor Malik Evans.

“I wish her all the best in her future endeavors. I anticipate working with Deputy Chief David Smith, who will serve on an interim basis. I look forward to the important search for a permanent Chief.”