LONSBERRY: Is It Time To Dissolve The RPD?


In America, the people are supposed to get what the people want.

               And the people of Rochester don’t want a police department.

               They don’t want it changed, they don’t want it reformed, they want it gone.

               You hear that every night on the 6 o’clock news, you see it daily in the streets, it is the undying demand of activists from far and near. The Rochester Police Department is actively hated by a loud and large percentage of the residents of Rochester.

               I wish it were different. It doesn’t make sense to me. But it’s an undeniable reality.

               Rochester has chosen demagoguery over reason, prejudice over principle, chaos over order. It is a city run not by elected officials – most of whom are feckless and incompetent anyway – but by a network of reporters and activists, preachers and hucksters, tenured professors and aspiring revolutionaries.

               The mob has seized the social agenda, co-opted the media, demanded fidelity to its orthodoxy, and is purging the community of those who disagree. It has either convinced or intimidated the majority of Rochesterians, and thereby has won the day.

               And it doesn’t want a police department.

               So it’s time to begin the process of shutting the RPD down.

               Seriously.

               Stop hiring new officers, offer buyouts, assist with the transfer of current police officers into other city jobs, or encourage their transfer to other police agencies.

Don’t defund it, dissolve it.

The mayor has denounced the department, all but one member of the City Council has denounced the department, the conventional wisdom of the city’s social leaders is that the police exist merely as the enforcement arm of white supremacy, that cops are nothing but the goons in a school-to-prison pipeline designed to enshrine incarceration of blacks as the slavery of our day.

That’s written in the papers, taught in the classrooms, believed in the hearts.

It is the mantra of the activists who rule Rochester and, increasingly, Democrat-dominated Monroe County. It is what the people believe and upon which they base their worldview.

So shut it down.

If America is rethinking what law enforcement means, if nearby Ithaca is actively dissolving its police force, why can’t Rochester? If suburban school superintendents are mandating instruction that advances the narrative that the criminal justice system is a war on blacks, why can’t Rochester quit that war? If Monroe County is electing judges who actively nullify criminal-law enforcement, why must Rochester continue to pay for a police force that does nothing but feed a catch-and-release system?

If the laws of the state of New York devalue arrest and oppose incarceration – as recent progressive criminal justice reforms do – then a police force is outdated and unnecessary. As what was once called criminal conduct is now classified as a mental health crisis, as violators of law are seen not as bad citizens but as people deprived of necessary services, the model of a police service – or anything like it – simply doesn’t fit.

There is also the reality of the palpable hatred for the RPD felt on the streets of the city. When the preachers and the reporters and the politicians all talk about racist cops, the message hits home, and hearts are turned bitterly against anybody with a badge and a gun. That may not always be said to the face, but it is almost always felt in the heart.

And it is spilling over onto firefighters and ambulance medics, who increasingly find themselves the target of taunts formerly reserved for the police.

But the bottom line is democracy and the will of the people.

There being no means in New York law for a referendum on whether or not voters want to retain a police department, the will of the people has to be discerned in community upset and activism, and perhaps in the overwhelming vote to create an anti-police Police Accountability Board. Likewise, the near-unanimous animosity of the City Council to the department has to be seen as representing the will of constituents.

Chats with barbers and walks with pastors notwithstanding, Rochester hates its police department. That really has become undeniable. The only public support from the agency seemingly comes from old, white people who don’t live in the city.

And in America we do the will of the people.

Which means, for Rochester, it’s time for the police department to go.

No more new hires, offer buyouts, transfer officers to other city jobs, and facilitate transfers to other police agencies. Stop patrols, assign officers to paperwork positions, like providing forms for insurance companies. Send out mental health teams. Let the medical examiner and the district attorney handle homicides. Let pastors and activists run peace circles and restorative justice councils for those who believe they’ve been wronged by their neighbors. Institutionalize the activists by giving them the grants they crave, and let them handle things.

If there is a revolution afoot, and if change is demanded, then let it start here and let it start now. If the police department is evil, get rid of it. If the community doesn’t want cops, get rid of the cops. If we believe law enforcement is an arm of white supremacy, get rid of it.

Shut down the Rochester Police Department.

And then let’s look at Brighton and Irondequoit.