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Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan takes over as interim chief of the RPD

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The new interim chief of the Rochester Police Department was sworn in at City Hall on Wednesday.

Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan becomes the first woman to lead the department. She was named to take over the department by Mayor Lovely Warren last month, and Herriott-Sullivan comes in at a challenging time for that department, with racial justice rallies this year for George Floyd and Daniel Prude and ongoing protests as recently as Tuesday night.

Warren had fired former Chief La’Ron Singletary, and there are multiple investigations going on into the death of Prude, who suffocated in police custody last March and died a week later. Much of the department's command staff also resigned from the department.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Herriott-Sullivan admitted that it took a bit of soul-searching before she decided to accept the offer to take over as interim chief.

“The selfish part of me had no problem saying, ‘You know, I don’t think so.’ But the part that cares, a good friend once told me, that as a leader, you can’t put your head down and turn your head away and go about your business, you have to do something, you’re going to want to do something.”

Herriott-Sullivan said she is working on a 90-day plan for the department and pledged to involve members of the community.



“This is a partnership," she said. "We’re all going to work together to get it done, we rise and fall together, no finger-pointing. If I gotta own it, I’ll own it, but I expect the same from everybody else.”

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.