After a nationwide search, David Smith has been named Rochester’s police chief. He has been Acting Chief since October 2021.
More than 25 candidates were strongly considered for the position, according to city officials.
Mayor Malik Evans today announced the appointment of Smith along with other key positions within the Rochester Police Department and City Hall. Separately, Evans announced that he had appointed Van Henri White to fill a vacancy on the Rochester court.
“David Smith brings a demonstrated commitment to serving the people of Rochester with integrity and compassion and I am proud to have him able to instill these values in every officer of the Rochester Police Department,” Evans said.
The mayor added: “These appointments are the result of careful deliberation to complete my image of a leadership team made up of the highest caliber of talented, energetic and selfless servant leaders. As we enter the second half of my first year in office, we are accelerating off the curve with growing momentum toward our vision of a hopeful Rochester with an exciting future.
The search for a leader included comments from the public, including more than 100 residents.
A veteran of the Rochester Police Department since 1992, Smith began his tenure as an officer in the Southwest Quadrant. As interim leader, he implemented several policy changes regarding the conduct of officers during protests to protect the rights of citizens, including banning tear gas, flash bangs and long-range acoustic devices, city officials said. A strong proponent of building relationships in the community through foot and bicycle patrols, Smith once commanded the bicycle unit.
As chief, he will have to work with the Police Accountability Board, created to bring transparency to law enforcement, and the Rochester Police Locust Club, the influential police union.
At a recent event hosted by the United Christian Leadership Ministry, Smith spoke about the department working to improve internal training. He and other law enforcement officers present at the event sympathized with community issues such as illegal firearms and long emergency response times, but noted that the increased crime, service expectations beyond law enforcement (such as mental health crisis management), and officer shortages are too difficult to overcome with dedication alone.
In addition to Smith, Evans made the following nominations.
■Keith Stith will act as Deputy Head of Community Engagement for the RPD. A more than 30-year veteran of law enforcement, Stith recently retired as Chief of Detectives for the District Attorney’s Office in Hudson County, NJ. With his appointment, the city now has civilian and in violence prevention uniforms in the mayor’s office and the police department, officials said.
■ Carla Johnson was named Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In her role with the City, she will implement important initiatives, including those defined in the report of the RASE Commission.
■ Guillaume Boudreaux becomes the city’s chief technology officer. He has been acting city director of information technology since January. In addition to Boudreaux’s work for the city, his professional experience includes work for the University of Rochester Medical Center, United Technologies Corp. and Ultralife Batteries Inc.
■ Harriet Fisher will assume the role of Director of the Project Management Office. A city employee since 1998, Fisher was most recently manager of enterprise applications in the information technology department. She is expected to lead the implementation of projects, including the city’s mainframe transition as well as updates to its land management system, which will support the project currently underway to align the city’s zoning code. city on the vision of the Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan.
The appointments of Smith and Boudreaux must be confirmed by the city council.
The Rochester City Court vacancy was created by the elevation of Judge Stephen Miller to the New York State Court of Claims in May. White was a candidate in the recent Democratic primary for city court judge won by Jacquelyn Grippe and Latoya Lee. In private practice, he has represented clients in criminal and civil matters with a particular focus on civil rights litigation. He was chairman of the Rochester City School Board and also a special advisor to Mayor Bill Johnson and a prosecutor in the local district attorney’s office.
Smriti Jacob is editor of Rochester Beacon. The Beacon welcomes feedback from readers who adhere to our comments policy including the use of their full real name.