Over the last week, Rochester has seen protests over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died while in police custody six months ago.
Last week, a video of police officers arresting Prude was made public for the first time. Protests and demonstrations ensued and today the top leadership of the Rochester Police Department announced their retirements.
Former Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy has some perspective on what's happening in the city: He served as police chief and later the mayor of Rochester before running for lieutenant governor with Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
Duffy spoke with me about an hour before the announced retirements. But he had seen the Prude video, which he called upsetting, and said there were questions that remained over why it took six months for it to be made public.
"The one thing I was absolutely mystified with was not knowing anything for six months publicly about this incident," Duffy said. "And then as it unfolded publicly, just having conflicting stories and accounts that seemed to create more confusion."
It was an unusual step for Duffy to comment about police matters. He's now the CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and has largely sought to be a business booster for the region that job calls for.
But he did see a connection between education and joblessness and poverty.
"The issue of poverty. You have young kids selling drugs on our streets. They drop out of school in ninth grade. We have one of the poorest outcomes of any school district in the country," he said. "We have to fix that."
He added, "There are no easy answers here."
Duffy did applaud the move by Attorney General Letitia James, however, to empanel a grand jury in the case, saying that's where key questions can be asked and answered.
"You can build up years and years and year building up this positive bank account of feelings back and forth," he said. "There's really outstanding police officers that have served in Rochester. But it all comes to a crashing halt at 3:00 in the morning if something happens that fractures that trust."
State lawmakers and Cuomo earlier this year approved a package of changes to policing, including a measure that allows for the release of police disciplinary records. Duffy said the repeal of the law known as 50a would not have changed the outcome for Prude and the seven police officers now suspended.
"I think we as a community have to deliver those changes," he said. "But it takes everybody at the table. It goes back to the issue of reform. Nobody at any level can really put that off. This is going to take local, city and state collaboration and this going to go much deeper than that issue of 50a. "