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Rochester police survey raises concerns over bias

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The city of Rochester has unveiled a survey on police reform, but some residents argue that the wording of the questions reflect a bias toward approving the construction of new police stations — a pet project of the administration of Mayor Lovely Warren.

City Council member Mary Lupien said around 20 people  reached out to her with concerns over the wording of the survey within the first 24 hours of its release on Monday.

“How you ask the question is just as important as who you’re reaching out to,” Lupien said. “So it’s important that if we’re really trying to get the poll of the community in where they’re at that we’re not trying to lead them in any direction.”

Lupien asserted that the questions are biased towards approving police substations, only including positive aspects of what is proposed rather than the full picture. She also said the questions are worded to help further Warren’s political agenda.

“Are we hoping for a certain outcome? Or do we truly want to poll the community for how they’re feeling right now about community and police relations and our path forward?” she asked. “I think we can make a request to rethink the questioning, the line of questioning, but in terms of any definitive action I’m not sure what City Council can do.”

Justin Roj, the city’s communications director, said that the survey is part of Rochester Police Department’s Interim Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan’s 90-day plan to connect with Rochester residents.



He said it is an initial attempt to engage the community on policing matters.

“Let’s see how this goes, and certainly [we] are open to improving and refining that process in the future,” he said.

Noelle E. C. Evans is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.