When Officer Daryl Pierson was murdered, shot in the throat on Hudson Avenue, the Rochester Police Department faced an existential crossroads.
It had been bled, on its own streets, and people wondered if it would fight back. Would it flood the zone, would it push back, would it reclaim a role of dominance in the culture of Rochester’s streets? Or would it roll over and show its belly, would it continue to silently submit to the dominance of a criminal culture that killed at will and operated in brazen openness?
Would it man up or would it wuss out?
Unfortunately, it did the latter. Under the mismanagement of Mayor Lovely Warren and Chief Mike Ciminelli, the department bent over and grabbed its ankles. It did nothing. Oh, it promised and planned and dithered, but it never did anything.
And the message was read loud and clear.
In the crudest of terms, you can be the alpha or you can be the bitch. And the Rochester Police Department was made the bitch. And the community learned that the department could not only not protect the citizens, it couldn’t protect itself, and when wounded it didn’t fight back, it retreated, it assumed a submissive and subservient posture.
The thugs were the alphas and it’s remained that way since, getting a significant boost in 2020 when the institutions of power in the community and nation turned against the police in a vicious and continuing attack.
Now the Rochester Police Department has been bled again.
A good man has been murdered in the line of duty, one of two police officers shot Thursday night. Within 48 hours, there were two more murders in the city of Rochester and 2022 moved ahead of 2021’s pace for deadliest year ever.
And that question lays before the Rochester Police Department again. It is at another existential crossroads. Is it going to be the alpha, or is it going to be the bitch?
Is it going to stand and fight, or is it going to cut and run?
Can the people of Rochester count on it, or can they not?
Do the thugs own the streets, are the cops a joke, should the people live in fear? Those are valid questions, they are pressing questions, those are questions for City Hall.
Sure, the sheriff is patrolling himself and bringing in his deputies. Suburban officers are volunteering shifts. The county executive is calling Albany for more troopers.
But where the hell is the mayor? Is he still pretending that shouting at TV cameras at a press conference is going to accomplish something? Is he so cowed by activists and deaf to residents that he’s still living in the summer of 2020? Is he still confused about who the good guys and the bad guys are?
Is he that afraid of being the alpha?
City Hall has defunded the police department for so long that it’s a shell of what it should be. Its officers have been abandoned to twist in the wind so many times that they have no confidence in Church Street or the Sixth Floor. The police have been disrespected at so many City Council meetings and 6 o’clock newscasts that they are mocked and ridiculed on the streets and in social media.
And that’s dangerous.
It emboldens criminals and endangers life, as the surge of urban violence since the summer of 2020 shows. Since the Democrats marched on the Public Safety Building, Rochester has seen the deadliest 48 months of its history, and that’s not a coincidence.
Contempt for police means danger for citizens.
And if the mayor wants to protect his citizens, he must empower his police department. He must let them be alpha. He must grow a spine.
It was an RPD patch which fell, and it must be the RPD patch which prevails. The help of outside agencies is nice, and appreciated, but it further hardens the perception of RPD weakness. It doesn’t help if your cousin knocks the bully on his ass, you’ve got to knock him on his ass yourself.
And the officers of the Rochester Police Department can. They are tough, capable and principled.
But they are on a short leash. And people are dying as a result.
There must be a surge. The confidence of the people in their police department must be restored. All law breaking must be challenged, all law breakers must be confronted. Law enforcement should be no only proactive, but aggressive. The streets must be made safe.
Or Officer Tony Mazurkiewicz will have died in vain.
Him and everyone else.
The victims of a City Hall which left them unprotected.