Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren tapped a Black woman to become the new interim city police chief, saying Saturday she will bring a “fresh approach to policing” amid the tumultuous aftermath to Daniel Prude’s death.
Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, who retired from the department in 2009 as a lieutenant, will become the first woman to head the police department on Oct. 14.
Warren fired former Police Chief La’Ron Singletary this month after police body camera video was released of Prude, a Black man who died several days after officers put a hood over his head and pressed his face into the pavement on March 23.
The video's release nearly six month after Prude's death sparked days of protests in the city, as well as insistent calls for police reform and the mayor's resignation. Warren lauded Herriott-Sullivan's police experience and ties to the community and said she will help her “bridge the gap” between the police and residents.
“I am confident that she will bring a different perspective and instill a fresh approach to policing both of which are very much needed in our city, particularly at this difficult time,” Warren said at a news conference.
Herriott-Sullivan will take over a police department in disarray since Prude's relatives released the video. Warren claimed Singletary had initially misled her about the circumstances of the death. Other senior police officials have announced their retirements or departures from top command positions.
A week ago, the city by Lake Ontario was further traumatized when gunfire at a backyard party killed two teenagers and wounded 14 others. Police have yet to announce arrests in that case.
Herriott-Sullivan is currently the interim deputy executive director at the Rochester Housing Authority. She told reporters that despite tough times, she believes the community can work together in the city she loves.
“Ironically, I left law enforcement because I wanted to have a bigger hand in helping people stay out of jail rather than putting them in," she said. ”And so I moved on to roles that helped me in in dealing with criminal justice disparities."
Warren said earlier this month that the interim chief would serve until June, giving the city time to conduct a national search for a permanent replacement.