Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter released a statement on Saturday, addressing the death of Daniel Prude, the ongoing investigations, and the protests that have taken place in the aftermath.

Sheriff Baxter sent his condolences to the family of Daniel Prude, and said he understands the community is hurting and has a right to express that anger through protests.

He said that county deputies are trying to make sure people are free and safe to exercise their First Amendment Rights to protest.

Baxter explained now more than ever it’s important for everyone to work together to find a way forward, because recent events are a step back in police and community relations.

Baxter said in full:

“On behalf of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, I extend my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Daniel Prude.

I acknowledge the hurt, the pain that people are experiencing and where we as a country are today as it relates to police community relations. Now more than ever, it is important that we all work together getting to a better place.

We need to build upon the hard work of the last few months. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, I share some responsibility to find a way to work together, as the City of Rochester and AG’s office work through their investigations into the death of Mr. Prude. As your Sheriff, I ask everyone in this painful time, to find a way to push through this so that we can learn and become a better community. MCSO wants to make sure people are free to exercise their First Amendment rights to demonstrate. Protest peacefully, but remember why you are protesting; to effect change. Do not allow individuals to hijack your cause; don’t allow them to damage property, hurt others, or harm our community, as it takes away the focus of why you are out there.

I remind you that we will be there to protect people and provide order. The police officers have a very difficult job and I appreciate their work. They have to stand that line to protect the right for one to protest and provide a safe environment for every member of our community.

I have always worked to build up rather than tear down. I remain committed to working together for solutions, to include mental health as well as drug and alcohol addiction response and diversion programs. We have been and remain steadfast in building up the community that we love. The eyes of the nation are on Rochester, now is the time to step up. We need to walk forward - together - one step at a time. The greater Rochester community is better than this. Let us be the example for the country.”