Rochester Police are seeing some constructive outreach in wake of Floyd death

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This low resolution photo shows three of four officers charged all kneeling on George Floyd during the deadly encounter last month. (Courtesy/New York Post)

ROCHESTER - Rochester Police on Thursday said following the police-involved strangulation death of a black man in Minneapolis last month, they have had significant outreach regarding a path forward here in the Lilac City.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers has spawned an outbreak of protests against police brutality, rioting in a dozen or more U.S. cities and sparked a debate over systemic police brutality against African-American.

"We have had discussion with people, with various groups, and received letters asking us to meet with people," said Rochester Police Public Information Officer Capt. Todd Pinkham on Thursday.

He said the meetings have been informal and are ongoing, but didn't want to name any of those who came forward since they have not indicated they wanted to go public.

Pinkham said de-escalation tactics taught Rochester Police and designed to prevent a tragedy like what happened to Floyd, the black man killed in Minneapolis, are ongoing.

"We already do that and we will continue to emphasize these things," Pinkham said, "but you can never get enough training in these areas."

Pinkham said RPD was one of first law enforcement agencies to form a Crisis Intervention Team, whose members undergo extensive training - even beyond rank and file training - in crisis mitigation.

He said earlier this year prior to the COVID crisis the department had several CIT trainings, but that they were now on hold due to the pandemic.

Pinkham credited Rochester's rigorous hiring process with keeping the city on the forefront of crisis mitigation by bringing on officers who will reflect the values of the department and be a source of pride to its citizen.

He said the hiring process includes a full background check, polygraph test, psychological profile and interviews with the candidate's neighbors, former coworkers and more.

From a personal standpoint, Pinkham said he was revolted and disgusted after watching the minutes-long tape of Floyd being suffocated as a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck.

"Whenever you see something like this, whatever the use of force, I take this very personally," Pinkham said. "I hold myself to a high standard, and personally take offense at any police officer involved in an incident like the death of George Floyd or corruption or anything else that reflects on my profession."

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