Tension grew last week between local activists and the Rochester Police Locust Club as officers participated in a controversial training program conducted by the Force Science Institute, paid for by the union.
Critics say that FSI and its founder, Bill Lewinski, encourage officers to escalate their use of force in volatile situations, often in communities of color. Although some of his research has been challenged, Lewinski is popular with many police officers, and he often testifies in trials on behalf of officers accused of using excessive force.
Rochester activists protested for several days in front of the union's office, with some chaining themselves to the Locust Club's sign. One of them later chained himself to the entry doors, which resulted in his arrest, said Milo Ehrenberg, a spokesperson for the protesters.
Protesters argued that rather than pay for the FSI training, the Locust Club should pay for training that emphasizes de-escalation in tense encounters. They'll continue to try to increase the public's awareness about the need for greater police oversight, Ehrenberg said.
"We're working on connecting with activists in other cities facing the same issues," Ehrenberg said.