Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan resigns, Deputy David Smith to replace her

Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan announced Wednesday she will be resigning as Rochester Police Chief.

Herriott-Sullivan became the first female to ever lead the Rochester Police Department when she was sworn in as interim chief on Oct. 13, 2020. Deputy Chief of Operations David M. Smith will take over as her successor starting Oct. 13, 2021.

When she addressed the decision to resign as Interim Chief, Herriott-Sullivan recalled her transition from the Rochester Housing Authority (RHA), where she was employed until 2019.

“When I came in [as Interim Chief], I had a job I loved and I took a break from that to come and do what I can to help the City,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “I have no regrets, I love the City, but the RHA Board gave me a year and that year is up. I’m going to be going back.”

Herriott-Sullivan’s final remarks during the press conference held by the Rochester Police Department were made to Smith and the force’s future.

“I think it’s time for a new chief to take this department forward, but aslo back to where we were nationally known for our innovative practices,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “There are some great people here that I will miss.”

Smith was part of Herriott-Sullivan’s command staff. He has been a member of the Rochester Police Department since 1992. As new Interim Chief, Smith will be expected to serve in the role until the full-fledged position is filled.

According to Smith, he wants to facilitate the progress left behind by Herriot-Sullivan and return the department to its status as one the rest of the nation looked up to.

“What will we see now? You’re not going to see any significant changes, we will continue forward with what the department has set out for itself,” Smith said. “The RPD was one of the premiere agencies in the country, we have started on the track to get back to that. That is the goal, I am confident we will get back to that.”

Smith said he was excited to take on his newly-appointed role. He also said that he would be happy to extend his services in any way useful to the department.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren — who resigned two days prior after accepting a plea deal for numerous criminal charges — recognized Herriott-Sullivan’s accomplishment’s and introduced Smith as Interim Chief in a written statement from Monroe County Wednesday morning.

“Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan stepped forward to serve Rochester during one of most difficult periods in our history, and despite what she has faced, she protected our City and delivered meaningful change,” Warren wrote in a statement. “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. I am confident he will serve Rochester well.”

In her official resignation letter as Interim Chief, Herriott-Sullivan thanked the Rochester Police Department and spoke of success when addressing the future of the agency.

“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,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “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,” Herriott-Sullivan 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.”

Presumptive Mayor Malik Evans, who defeated Warren in the July primary election, thanked Herriott-Sullivan in a written statement.

“She stepped up and served as Interim Chief during a challenging time for the Department. She should be commended for embracing the challenge. 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.”

Other leaders in Rochester however where not as pleased with the progress made by Herriott-Sullivan and asked to see more from the next administration.

Rochester Police Union President Mike Mazzeo says new leadership is needed to solve the problems faced by the City and department.

“I think that what was needed and what is still needed is some strong leadership in the police department. Some consistency,” Mazzeo said. “It takes anyone a period of time to really learn a job. And we’re going through probably the worst time in policing in the last few years. And to learn during that period of time makes it very, very difficult.”

Mayor Lovely Warren announced on October 13, 2020 that Herriott-Sullivan would be taking over the department, after former chief La’Ron Singletary was fired in the wake of Daniel Prude’s death.

Herriott-Sullivan originally served as a RPD Lieutenant, a role she stayed held for close to 25 years.


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