Rochester, N.Y. --- Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard criticized the actions of the officers involved in two incidents that were the focus of internal investigations. On Friday Chief Sheppard closed both the investigations but refused to discuss what if any disciplinary actions resulted.
The first investigation explored the May 12th arrest of Emily Good who was charged with Obstruction of Governmental Administration 2nd Degree. Good was videotaping officers conducting a traffic stop outside her home and the tape shows the officer expressing concerns for his own safety. Chief Sheppard said the investigation reveals the officer “should have dealt with his safety concerns in a different manner.”
The Chief called this a “training issue” that he is working to resolve.
The second investigation explored a June 23rd incident where several parking tickets were issued to vehicles parked more than twelve inches from the curb. Those vehicles belonged to various supporters of Good’s who were meeting nearby on Clarissa Street.
"There was a detail of four officers that went to the location of this meeting and issued those tickets,” Chief Sheppard said at a Friday afternoon press conference. “I believe that it was inappropriate however it fits the letter of the law, but we deal with more than just the letter of the law.”
The Chief said he is voiding those parking tickets but stopped short of calling them an act of retaliation.
"We directed our people to do parking enforcement,” the Chief said of the larger neighborhood where the tickets were issued. “However as the result of our review we know this was a targeted enforcement activity which was unacceptable.”
Citing privacy laws pertaining to civil servants both Chief Sheppard and Mayor Tom Richards refused to discuss what if any disciplinary action was taken. Each declined to even report the number of officers or police personnel who may have been disciplined, resigned, terminated, or even those who were targets of each investigation. Laws do not appear to prevent an agency from releasing those anonymous statistics or details.
Chief Sheppard said the West Side Patrol Commander was replaced following these investigations but declined to characterize that as being a form of discipline nor did he elaborate on the commander’s involvement or knowledge of his officer’s ticketing specific cars on Clarissa Street.
In response to the city’s press conference Emily Good told 13WHAM News that she is disappointed in the city’s continued lack of transparency. She said she hoped the public would see a strong response and transparent report from city leaders and that absent that she believes residents should remain skeptical of the department’s actions and behavior.
Mayor Tom Richards made it a point to explain that Good and her friends, while it is their right, did not file any formal complaints with the department and did not wish to participate in the internal investigation.
"She (Good) also refused to cooperate with the investigation in other words she wouldn't come in and talk to us; her friends wouldn't come in and talk to us,” Mayor Richards said. “I don't think you can claim you're afraid of the police in that situation, she was on CNN telling her story so there's no secret about this process here. If she is willing to talk to them I don't see why she wouldn't be willing to talk to us but that's her prerogative.”
In a phone conversation with 13WHAM News Good said the police made numerous attempts to contact her and at each turn she instructed them to discuss the matter with her lawyer. Good said that she was given no indication that police specifically wished to speak to her for the purposes of these internal investigations and to her knowledge they never attempted to interview her friends or a neighbor who witnessed Good’s arrest and called 9-1-1 following it.