RPD releases new policies on chokeholds and 'duty to intervene'

Mar 16, 2021
Originally published on March 16, 2021 8:21 am

Rochester Police have announced some policy changes as the department continues to look at overall reforms and changes, partly in preparation for a state-required plan to reimagine public safety, due for all municipalities, by April 1.

On Monday, RPD released policy updates in two areas -- “duty to intervene” and the use of chokeholds. (The complete documents are below)

For duty to intervene, changes include:

  • All members have duty to intervene to prevent or stop any unreasonable use of force or other misconduct
  • Members failing to intervene can result in discipline or remedial measures
  • Any intervention must be reported to a supervisor as soon as practical
  • Supervisors must address the behavior

Chokeholds will be banned:

  • Police officers are prohibited from using chokeholds except in extreme circumstances where deadly physical force is authorized.
  • The policy includes information regarding the new New York State Penal Law – aggravated strangulation

Next week, the Rochester Police Department plans on release a new mental hygiene detention policy and de-escalation policy.  The department says that in the coming weeks, they will release new policies on use of force and juvenile detention.

RPD Duty to Intervene by WXXI News on Scribd

RPD Chokeholds Policy by WXXI News on Scribd

Formalizing a prohibition on chokeholds in Rochester was something called for by police activists and watchdogs, including the city’s newly-formed Police Accountability Board.

Connor Dwyer Reynolds, the executive director of the PAB, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of both orders, however, calling them "unhelpfully vague."

"Unfortunately, I can't say for certain these policies will change much, if anything," he wrote in an email to the board. "There are loopholes in both new rules."

He noted that neither made mention of any new discipline measures to reinforce the orders and cast the “duty to intervene” as being overly objective in that it leaves up to officers when to it is “safe and feasible” to step in.

“Without knowing what training officers are undergoing to learn about these new policies, we can’t say they will be more than words on a piece of paper,” Reynolds wrote.

This story includes reporting by CITY News Editor Dave Andreatta and reporter Gino Fanelli.

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