The Rochester Police Department is identifying suspects in the vandalism and property destruction that occurred after a peaceful protest May 30 that called for justice and honored George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.
But arresting individuals who allegedly committed the acts takes some time.
“Just because I know who you are, there are certain requirements in the law that we need to meet before we can go arrest you,” Capt. Frank Umbrino of Central Investigations Section said June 2 at a news conference. “To the average person, I know that’s not an acceptable answer. There’s a criminal justice process. Nobody gets more frustrated with it than I do. But unfortunately it takes time.”
On June 1 and 2, RPD sent the media photos of people who are potential suspects or witnesses to the destruction at the Public Safety Building and elsewhere. (The photos sent June 2 are at the end of this story.)
RPD officials said they’ve received tips to help identify the individuals. Some have been identified, and Umbrino said investigators are working to confirm others.
After that, police have to build their case.
“Just because we know that it’s you, we have to be able to … prove that it’s you,” Umbrino said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Rochester Police Department at 311 or Crimestoppers at (585) 423-9300.
On May 31, police announced 13 arrests. The names have not been released. Umbrino said additional arrests will be made, but it could take days or weeks. Because the investigation is active, he could not answer some questions about the process.
“If you were involved in that behavior, you need to be looking over your shoulder because there’s a pretty good chance that ultimately we’re going to be knocking on your door and taking you away,” he said.
Deputy Chief Mark Mura said the department has been overwhelmed by support from the community, from donations of water and food to see the thousands who turned out May 31 to help clean up the damage.
“That’s the uplifting part,” he said.
He said RPD understands and supports the First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. “What we don’t support obviously is the unrest that took place and the destruction of property and looting.”
About two dozen protestors stood outside the Rochester Police Locust Club for about 30 minutes on June 2. Locust Club president Mike Mazzeo said the union has received many calls and emails expressing appreciation for how officers responded to events May 30, and he focused on those comments.
“They believe everything the police could have done was done appropriately and they were put in a bad situation yet handled it with respect and restraint,” he said. “They understand the importance of what took place after with the looting and damage to various businesses. … They know without the officers that work in the neighborhoods being out there, things would be much worse than they are now.”
In a separate announcement, the city’s Neighborhood & Business Development Department is helping businesses affected by the vandalism.
As of June 2, NBD has identified 86 local businesses affected and is in the process of contacting their ownership and management. Local business owners can contact NBD at (585) 428-7848.
The destruction comes on top of challenges presented by COVID-19. Through its Business Emergency Retention Grants, Kiva Rochester Loan and Loan Deferral Programs, the city is helping more than 300 local businesses.