ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A member of the Rochester Police Department has been reassigned from his regular duties after an incident involving a member of a local ambulance crew early this week, according to authorities.
EMS ambulance teams, police and fire crews work together day in and day out, but on Monday, something went awry.
Rochester Police say a member of its department and an employee of Monroe Ambulance Emergency Medical Technician were involved in an incident at Strong Memorial Hospital — an incident significant enough to alert the chief of police.
“This incident is concerning to me,” said Rochester Police Chief David Smith. “So much so that you know I ordered an internal investigation.”
Smith says he can’t talk about the details of the investigation, but Spectrum News 1 independently obtained surveillance footage of the incident that occurred inside the doorway of the emergency department.
The video appears to show the member of the RPD approaching the EMT as she is tending to a patient still on the gurney. He then appears to grab her, moves her to the wall and places handcuffs on her, before removing her from the building.
Advocates of the Monroe Ambulance Emergency Medical Technician involved say she was roughed up by the member of the RPD.
“He could have had a conversation with her. Why did your first go-to decide to be physical?" asked Antonia Wynter, of FACTS Youth Program.
Mike Johnson of SAVE Rochester say they’ve spoken with the EMT and are supporting her. They say her ambulance door accidentally hit the police cruiser when she arrived at Strong Hospital during patient transport and continued to care for the patient – ignoring the member of the RPD's requests to stop and talk with him. They say at that point, she was physically and forcefully detained.
“This is traumatic. This is intolerable,” said Wynter. “The people that are charged with protecting and serving are injuring and accosting people that they work with. We value our first responders. We value our police force. We expect them to work harmoniously to protect us, to serve us, when we're sick, when we're in trouble, and this just impairs those relationships with them. And when we see that you're treating someone like this, and we expect you guys to work together, how should we feel as the public? This happened in a facility that's supposed to be caring for people.”
Chief Smith says he has high expectations for all members of the Rochester Police Department.
“I can say that professional conduct is professional conduct, no matter who or what you're dealing with,” he said.
Smith’s goal is to focus on positive police-community relations and says he takes this incident extremely seriously.
“Obviously it was concerning enough that the member has been reassigned to administrative duties,” he said. “Like I’ve said, I love this police department. I praise its members when they do right, but I also am going to hold them to my expectations.”
Smith released the following statement on Friday:
Rochester Mayor Malik Evans released a statement Friday afternoon, saying:
A spokesperson from Monroe Ambulance tells Spectrum News 1 that the employee involved in this incident does not want to talk on camera and does not want to be identified at this point. The company issued a statement Friday, saying:
"This is just evidence that Black people, Black women, are often victimized, even in the most extraordinary circumstances,” said Johnson. “This victim was just doing her job.”
Smith says everyone is entitled to due process and asks for patience as the incident is investigated.