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.

What You Need To Know

  • Authorities say a member of the RPD has been reassigned from his regular duties after an incident involving a Monroe Ambulance EMT
  • Independently obtained surveillance video shows the incident unravel
  • RPD is conducting an internal investigation and asks for patience

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:

“I have high expectations for all members of the Rochester Police Department. Obviously, this incident is deeply concerning to me. As a result of this interaction at Strong Hospital, I have directed our Professional Standards Section to initiate an internal investigation. The member involved has been re-assigned to administrative duties, pending the results of this investigation. As Chief, I demand the members of the Rochester Police Department perform their duties in a professional manner. And as such, we must hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability.”

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans released a statement Friday afternoon, saying:

“The video of a Rochester Police Investigator arresting an ambulance technician at the University of Rochester Medical Center clearly does not represent the standards of professional and ethical conduct that I expect of any City of Rochester employee, especially a police officer. Rochester Police Chief David Smith initiated an internal investigation of the incident as soon as it came to his attention and assigned the Investigator to a position that removes him from direct interaction with the public. I look forward to learning the outcome of this investigation and as Mayor I will ensure it is conducted in a manner that is as transparent as possible under the laws of New York State."

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:

"At Monroe Ambulance, the safety of our crew and our patients are of the upmost importance.  While this incident is still under internal investigation, our review of the video footage of the event shows the safety of both our employee and that of her patient were jeopardized by the action of the officer.  Our employee showed sound decision making by prioritizing the care of her patient and it is the expectation of all our care providers to do the same.  Furthermore, we do not believe the behavior of the officer aligns with the values of RPD leadership and should in no way condemn the rest of the brave brothers and sisters in blue.  We are eager to learn of the outcome of RPD’s official investigation."

"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.