Connections with Evan Dawson

Mayoral candidate James Sheppard
January 16, 2017
WXXI News, Rochester, NY
Evan Dawson: From WXXI News, this is Connections. I’m Evan Dawson
[Connections Theme begins]
Dawson: Our connection today was made Saturday at the Workers United union hall in Rochester when
county legislator James Sheppard announced his run for mayor or Rochester. Sheppard has served for
many years in law enforcement, including a stint as police chief; he’s been in the county legislature, and
now he’s looking at the top job at city hall. During his announcement event, Sheppard said he would lay
out his ideas for helping the city in much more detail in the months to come. So what is motivating this
run? Well, Sheppard said “the city is not rudderless, but essentially leaderless.” He said the makings are
in place for Rochester to have a resurgence, but it requires great leadership and Sheppard does not see
that leadership coming from the current mayor, Lovely Warren. As the mayoral campaign progresses, you
will hear from all candidates on this program. This is the first in our series because this is the first
confirmed candidate. Jim Sheppard, welcome back to Connections.
James Sheppard: Thank you sir, thanks for the invite.
Dawson: And thank you for confirming what people knew for a long time. A lot of people assumed this
would be a three-way race; you, the current mayor, Lovely Warren, and perhaps former television
journalist Rachel Barnhart, who has not confirmed her candidacy, but a lot of people are assuming it’s
going to be a three-way race. I want to ask you first and foremost, as you called for transparency
yesterday, transparency here; be straight with everybody here: the first time you thought about running for
mayor, when is the first time you really thought about running for mayor of Rochester?
Sheppard: 1985.
Dawson [laughs]: 1985?
Sheppard: You laugh, but I’m serious.
Dawson: That’s true? You’ve thought about it - 1985?
Sheppard: 1985.
Dawson: Okay. And when’s the - when did you really get serious about, you know, leading up to
Saturday’s announcement, then?
Sheppard: Um, I think when I retired from the police department and my game plan, I’ve said this many
times, that I was gonna do nothing, just sit on the couch and eat Cheetos, but once I passed about three
months or so, I wanted to do something. I volunteered at New Beginnings school, then had people reach
out to me relative to the county. Um, Paul - Paul Haney - [coughs] excuse me - was term-limited and, um,
that was a possibility, and so I decided to run in that position. Um, obviously I was successful in that race;
that was, um, a great eye-opener for me relative to how to run a race, and then obviously in the time I’ve
been in the Monroe County Leg, um, it’s shown me a lot relative to how legislation works, all those pieces.
Dawson: Okay, you don’t hide the fact that this is something that’s been on your mind for a while.
Sheppard: And I don’t say that, you know, 1985 and I say it in jest Dawson: I know, I’m just saying Sheppard: It’s not Dawson: - it’s a long plan.
Sheppard: - in jest, it’s Dawson: Sure.

Sheppard: I’ll give you this story: When I went in the police department in 1981, and part of our process
was asking everyone to stand up, state their name, and what you want to do and where you want to go,
and lot of people said they want to be detectives and K-9 and SWAT, I said I wanted to be chief of police.
And so, I’m a firm believer in putting your vision out there and not being afraid of it, and um, that’s the only
way you can obtain what you want to obtain.
Dawson: Now, you resigned from your position as police chief shortly after Lovely Warren was elected
mayor. Did she ask you to resign?
Sheppard: No, she did not.
Dawson: She didn’t.
Sheppard: No.
Dawson: How’s your relation - was it a bad relationship with her and a negative relationship?
Sheppard: We, we - I can’t say we had a bad relationship, um, obviously, from the time I became chief in
2010, um, we worked well together, I would assume, and then, um, once she announced she was gonna
run, I knew that, uh, um, from my perspective, um, that was not administration I wanted to work in.
Dawson: Okay. And, why not then?
Sheppard: [pauses] I think there were a number of factors in terms of how that all started, that I believe,
for me, this decision was made in March of 2013, um, as part of the designation process, um, I think she
stated that she had initiated policing in the spirit of service; that was something that I came in the door
talking about; I think during my swearing-in in December of 2010, I’d talked about policing in the spirit of
service and my philosophy then, as it is now, is that our role as police officers isn’t to dominate
neighborhoods or be oppressive, our role is to serve, and that’s the first role of public safety.
Dawson: Okay, but people are wondering now, you know, you resign when she takes over, and is this a
personal sort of, you know, is the relationship that you had with her cool enough that this race is personal
for you in any way?
Sheppard: Not personal at all. I mean, I look at the city; I look at where we are; I look at where we should
be; I look at the things that have been done over the last three years; I’ve talked to so many people out in
the neighborhoods; I’ve talked to developers; I’ve talked to employers, and one thing that you find is that
one, there’s no transparency; Number two, it’s not inclusive, and I think one thing that really jumps out at
me is that the city’s real being torn apart in any number of ways. I mean, you talk about race; it’s being
torn apart. You want to talk about, um, geography; it’s being torn apart. You know, you have neighborhood
against neighborhood. You have neighborhoods that don’t feel that they have a role in what goes on for
them, so, those are things that have come to me and it’s from my reaching out and having a conversation.
Dawson: So when you said this weekend and your announcement event that you feel that there is no
effective leadership, you’re essentially saying that Mayor Warren is not an effective leader. Is that why,
because you being told, whether it’s neighborhoods, whether it’s economic leaders, that there isn’t
cohesion? I mean - can you tell us why you think that this mayor is not an effective leader?
Sheppard: If you look at the data points, you know, of, let’s talk education. Have the improved over the
last three years? No. If you look at, um, employment, have we, you know, increased our employment,
jobs coming into the city? No. Do you look at our development, do you see that there’s a vision or a plan
for the city, uh, downtown or out in the neighborhoods? No. So those are the things that have stood out
for me and I think that, um, one of the things that coming up in the police department, at one point in time
I worked neighborhood empowerment and in that job, what you learn is that everything has to be done as
a collaborative effort. It’s can’t be “Jim Sheppard wants to do X,” it has to be “we want to do X.”
Dawson: Okay, so before we get into some of the things that are happening in terms of economic
development, and see where you stand on those, I want to just ask you: Mayor Warren defeated Tom
Richards the last time around, and Tom Richards himself was at your announcement on Saturday, many
of his supporters are backing you; the local Democratic party has really been fractured for years, I don’t
think that’s a mystery, right, so is it logical to think that your candidacy only continues that divide or can
you possibly bring the factions together?
Sheppard: My vision is to bring the factions together.

Dawson: But how?
Sheppard: One, by reaching out, I think by we’re sitting down and having those conversations, whether
it’s with the Gantt faction or the Morelle faction or people who are disenfranchised, um, and letting them
know that my role is not to represent any team, I’m not in this to represent a team, you know, I know that’s
part of the conversation, people want to say that “oh, he’s with this group or that group,” or “Tom Richards
was at his, uh, event.” That’s not what it’s about. For me, it’s really about being a unifying force, and I
believe I can do that.
Dawson: Okay. And, you know, when I talk to, for example, Jamie Romeo, the current chair of the
Democratic party locally, the first time she was on this program was not long after she became chair, but I
recall that conversation. She sits down, in that job, and a few weeks later - it’s a hard job, right, I mean I
don’t think anybody denies it’s a hard job but - she hadn’t even had a face-to-face conversation with
David Gantt, who’s an important figure, a towering figure in the Democratic Party, absolutely vital to that
kind of outreach. She hadn’t even had a meeting with him. Are you going to be able to sit down with
people who are not happy that you’re running; who view this campaign with some suspicion; frankly, who
view this as, you know, the quote-unquote “Richard people” fairly or unfairly; are you going to be able to
do that?
Sheppard: Most definitely. To me, I’ve already envisioned it in my mind where I want to be. You know,
growing up in the neighborhood, you get in a fight; when the fight’s over you shake hands and you don’t
let it linger. And that’s how I envision this. You know, it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. You’re gonna have
sides, people on different teams as we go through it, someone’s gonna come out a winner, and my vision
is at the end of that, we make this thing come together.
Dawson: But Jim, you know, you want to be the mayor of Rochester, and you have been in policing;
you’ve been in this community; this is your community for years now, so you’ve seen the split kind of
taking place. You just referred to it the way a lot of people refer to it, as a quote-unquote “Gantt faction”
and a quote-unquote “Morelle faction.” Why do you think this has happened?
Sheppard: That, you know, I don’t know. IT’s a great question you ask, because one of the things, if you
look into my background, is that I’ve been non-political for probably thirty-eight years in my time in
Rochester, and one thing that I’m free of is those slights that other people have in terms of grudges. I
have no animosity towards anybody, so I’m not coming in with baggage; I’m not coming in saying “you
know what, two years ago so-and-so didn’t support me,” or “five years ago, so-and-so promised me
something and they didn’t deliver.” For me, it’s just a matter of, you know what, it’s really about this city,
and really about making it better, and really about bringing the people together because once we come
together, I think we can do anything we want and I think we’ve lost so much over the years because we
have not been a singlular force.
Dawson: I’m talking to James Sheppard, who declared his candidacy for the mayor of Rochester on
Saturday. He is a county legislator, former police officer, and of course former police chief of the City of
Rochester, and, Jim, you said on Saturday you’re going to have a lot more specifics and a platform in the
weeks to come. Where can people find out more and jump online, you’ve got a website right now what is
Sheppard: It’s - sheppardforrochester, one word, and obviously we have a
Facebook page as well Dawson: And I know I’ve seen you on Twitter and social media. So if you want
to learn more, but why announce your candidacy without, you know, sort of this fully-formulated economic
Sheppard: Um, excellent question, and one of the things that I believe is important is that, um, for me to
come up with a plan in a vacuum leads to failure. I really believe that to have a plan that’s going to work I
need to sit down with the stakeholders and get their input; that we have a shared vision. I’ve seen it
before where somebody says “this is what I’m gonna do” and it fails because of the fact that the players,
the people who are impacted by it were not in the room, and I don’t want to start off in that way.
Dawson: But you haven’t been meeting with stakeholders, kind of privately, leading up to this
Sheppard: I have, um, and mainly in terms of finding out what are the issues; what are the problems;
what is not working; what do you feel that, um, needs to be done better? It’s really been a [pauses] a
reaching out as opposed to formulating a plan. It’s really about, um, finding out the issues that are
important to them.

Dawson: Okay, do you view your candidacy as a blank canvas on the economic side or do you feel that
you’ve got some ideas already, though?
Sheppard: I’ve - I do have some ideas, I think, uh, one of the things for our city is employment. Everybody
talks about employment and we have not had employment of magnitude come to this city in a long time.
Um, one of the things that I think are important is not so much having a casino downtown, but having
something where we bring in a factory or somewhere where you can bring 2,000 workers in and, you
know, 1,500 workers, and give them a meaningful wage, you know, not working for minimum wage, but a
meaningful wage so that we can change the dynamic of poverty in the city.
Dawson: Everybody would love to see a factory. Everybody would love to see manufacturing. Everybody
would love to see a kind of return - you want to jump in, go ahead.
Sheppard: Yes, and, you know, it doesn’t have to be a factory. One of the things that has been successful
and you’ve got a ton of them out in Henrietta is these call centers. It’s for people who don’t necessarily
have technical skills, but they may have the skills to be able to call somebody on the phone and have that
conversation to get them to do what they need to do. So, you know, when I say “factory,” I’m saying large
box Dawson: Large employer
Sheppard: Large employer
Dawson: One place, large employer. And lately, you talk call centers for example, you know, they’re
targeting places like Victor and Henrietta and the outlying areas. They’re not often going to the city
anymore, right?
Sheppard: -cause I don’t believe that we Dawson: What changes that?
Sheppard: I don’t think we’ve pitched them. We need to Dawson: You really don’t think the current mayor is working on that or is pitching those employers?
Sheppard: I can’t say whether she has or has not. The fact of the matter is it hasn’t come to fruition, and
so, I guess, the truth is in the pudding, and if you’re accomplished than that, the situation where they’re
coming to Rochester as opposed to Victor and Henrietta.
Dawson: Okay, so you think as mayor, you would use your position to be much more forceful in bringing
companies here, yes?
Sheppard: Yes, I think that is the role of a mayor in terms of being a regional leader, not just a City of
Rochester but working with the county governments; working with the towns; and looking at it as a
collaboration between all of us because we all have a vested interest; it’s not just the city, it’s not just the
county; it’s not just the county or the towns; it’s really about all of us coming together and trying to make
this the hub, because if Rochester dies, this region dies.
Dawson: All right, let’s hit some recent news items, then, as swiftly as we can, on the economy. Parcel 5
has been talked about a lot, a lot of rumblings that the city is on the verge of making an announcement,
though I reached out last week and city hall told me that they’re still working with some of the details
before a decision is made there. Have you taken a look at those proposals and is there one that you
would have favored if you were the mayor?
Sheppard: I have not had the opportunity to look at, you know, the nitty-gritty of the proposals, um, I do,
um, value the fact that, um, there’s a Galina proposal on the table, I think one of the other proposals said
“I, I love that plan,” um I Dawson: That’s right, Glen Kellogg, who, you may know him as not only an economic sort of, uh, urban
planner, but also the guy behind Hart’s Grocers, put together a plan and then saw the Galina-Dutton plan
and then said “you know, that actually looks pretty good to me” -

Sheppard: And that is really, you want to be in that position, where it’s not just a decision made by one
person. You really want it to be, say, when the decision is made, everybody who has a vested interest
says “you know what, that’s a great decision.”
Dawson: Okay, so as someone now running for mayor and has watched it from the outside, do you think
the city has run that process well?
Sheppard: I think in terms of transparency, has been lacking, and that is something that I’ve heard any
number of stakeholders, whether it’s developers or contractors, that transparency has been weak, and the
process has not been consistent.
Dawson: Okay, when it comes to La Marketa, Mayor Warren was on the program recently along with
some other community stakeholders saying that it’s time for North Clinton Avenue to get this kind of
cultural and business hub; do you support that?
Sheppard: Whole-heartedly support that. Again, when I refer to my time in NET, that was 1998, my area
of responsibility was sector 10, which was everything north of, uh, everything south of Clifford Avenue,
and at that time La Marketa was, you know, in the works; it’s been in the works for a very long time. If it’s
something that can be pulled off I think it would be a great accomplishment. That area definitely needs
some economic development and a change because, you know, so much has happened in that area,
whether it’s violence; whether it’s drugs, um, it’s been a pretty depressed neighborhood.
Dawson: Okay, and Mayor Warren’s administration has moved forward with not only filling roughly a third
of the Inner Loop so far, but I think there’s a lot of assumption that eventually the entire Inner Loop will be
gone. Should the entire Inner Loop be filled, Jim?
Sheppard: That, I think the plan to fill in the portion of the Inner Loop from Monroe Avenue over to East
Main Street is a great idea, I think what is left is lacking relative to development is vision, you know, what
is the vision of what’s gonna go there? Right now, we throw out, uh, RFPs, saying “somebody build
something, please,” and I think what we need to have is a vision of what we want to see there in terms of,
uh, walkability; in terms of retail; in terms of housing, apartments, whether it’s condos, whatever. It should
have a vision of what you want, then you ask people to come build it.
Dawson: Okay, we’re talking to Jim Sheppard who’s running for mayor, and listeners, if you want to call
the program, we’ll get to your calls coming up here, it’s 844-295-TALK, that’s toll-free 844-295-8255, or
263-WXXI if you’re in Rochester, 263-9994. Uh, you know, some of the most consistent criticism of your
run has come from your tenure as police chief, and your critics have said your policies have hurt people in
poverty and people of color, so let’s address that specifically. You instituted a plan called Operation Cool
Down, and I think it was the summer of 2013 - ’12 - ’12 and ’13 Sheppard: ’13
Dawson: Okay, anyway, ’13, and the idea as you announced it with Mayor Richards, funny enough if you
go to the City of Rochester’s website you’ll see that announcement press conference which you can still
watch, Mayor Richards there, Chief Sheppard at the time, and you see Lovely Warren, who was a
member of city council at the time there, along with a number of other community stakeholders tehre,
talking about making the streets safer, but within Operation Cool Down some of the details, some of the
individual strategies have bothered, I would say, to say the least, bothered the New York Civil Liberties
Union. They wrote a plan that summer saying, uh, they wrote a letter that summer saying that your plan
violated civil liberties. And they say you targeted citizens for minor offenses; broken tail lights; a bicycle
that didn’t have a bell on it, and they say those are the kinds of enforcements that led to a spiral of
problems for citizens in places like Ferguson, where things start with something small but they get out of
control, under the guise of law enforcement and protecting communities, but they target people in poverty
and people of color. Is that wrong?
Sheppard: I’ll start off in terms of my - the why, and I think that’s the most important for people to hear.
Dawson: Sure.
Sheppard: For me, in thirty-something years of policing, everything I did was about saving lives, and you
know, when you talk about the strategies, or you talk about what happened in the summer of 2013 or
summer of 2012, it was really about saving lives.You know, there was a time in my career, early in my
career, when you knew that there was going to be violence, or you knew that Sheppard’s got a beef
against Corey Johnson or whatever, you’d let it happen, and when one of them got shot, you’d say “okay,
we need to go look for Sheppard because they had a beef. And as we’ve progressed, we’ve learned, you

know, we get between those beefs. You know if someone’s got a beef with somebody, you try to take
them off the street in whatever way you can so that beef doesn’t escalate into violence. Every year, state
police, Monroe County sheriffs, all your regional towns talk about on New Year’s Eve we’re going to have
proactive DWI enforcement. They put that out there not because they want to have lots of arrests for
DWIs; they put that out there so that people don’t drive around drunk. And so, a lot of what I did was, one,
being transparent, in terms of what we’re going to do in terms of strategies, but also putting it out there to
these young men, into their minds that “guess what, maybe I’ll leave that gun home today,” because every
shooting I’ve ever heard of has started with a very small slight that because that gun is right there, they
use it. And if it’s a matter of them having to go home and get it, a lot of time that is the pause that prevents
that violence from escalating, so again, as far as policing strategies, at the end of the day, I’d say to
anybody, my sole purpose was to save lives. Last point I’ll make, I always made a point, when there was
a homicide, of trying to go visit that family, and the reason I would go visit that family because I wanted to
feel their pain; I wanted to give my condolences, but I also wanted to feel their pain because I didn’t want
it to be about just numbers, you know, homicide number 32; I’m worried that there’s going to be 33. I’m
worried because some mother is going to lose her son, and I don’t care who it is, their son could be a
dope dealer, gang banger, choir boy, whatever, if you are around these mothers and see that heartbreak,
you know you have to do something.
Dawson: Anything in Operation Cool Down that you regret?
Sheppard: I can’t say I regret - you know, a lot of people have said “you know, Sheppard, he’s stop and
frisk.” Stop and frisk, in New York City was a philosophy. That was not a philosophy in the Rochester
Police Department.
Dawson: But they think Cool Down looks like a version of stop and frisk. Do you disagree?
Sheppard: I disagree. I disagree. And, I’m glad that you brought that up, I don’t know if you recall, part of
that was, one, me sending letters to known gang members telling them that yes, as a result of your
involvement, possibly in, uh, violence, that we’re going to do X, Y, and Z. We would target them, we’d call
them in and say “listen, we know you’re part of this group, if your members in that group are involved in
violence, we’re gonna, um, put attention to the tenure group.” So a lot of it was strategic in that we knew
were being violent.
Dawson: Okay, now, stop and frisk itself has been controversial. Our president-elect now has talked about
the need to bring it back more nationally. Does it work? Would you support it in Rochester?
Sheppard: I think, obviously, what we saw in New York, in terms of, uh, their use of stop and frisk was
controversial, and I think that it was something that, um, the data points showed disproportionately
impacted minorities, and so I don’t think that’s something that, um, any police department can survive if
their philosophy is stopping and frisking people based on race or where they’re standing on the street. I
think, um, targeted enforcement is the future, where, “okay, we know what the players are, we know what
the beefs are, how can we get between them so it doesn’t escalate into bodies on the street?”
Dawson: Talking to Jim Sheppard. We’ll get to your phone calls coming up here, I just want to close the
loop on some of the questions on his term as chief of police for the City of Rochester because early in his
candidacy for mayor, that’s where some of the criticisms come from. It’s not a surprise to Jim, I know you
know that your record is going to be looked over as everyone's should be. In fall of 2015 a billboard
sparked a debate among some in our community, it was a picture of a police badge with the words “Blue
Lives Matter,” and an local student and an aspiring local reporter names Tymoni Correa-Buntley wrote
about it, in which you were quoted. Do you recall that story? Did you talk to her, or did you talk to others
about that billboard? Do you recall that billboard?
Sheppard: No.
Dawson: Okay, the Blue Lives Matter billboard. So, let me go ahead a quote from her story, and tell me if
there words reflect how you feel about that. She writes: “Sheppard believes the original movement should
be about all lives, rather than just black lives mattering, and Sheppard said” this is still her piece, quote
“Sheppard said ‘black lives matter? Well show me. People get so angry over whites killing blacks or police
killing blacks, but what about when we kill each other? In fact, the data shows the deaths caused by law
enforcement are not as high as people think, I believe that all lives matter, no matter who it is that gets
killed, we have to remember that they were somebody’s baby; someone is always going to be grieving.’”
End quote. Did you say that? Do you stand by that?
Sheppard: Well that definitely sounds like something I would say, and I want to reiterate that in terms of
death, because i really believe that, for the issues of Black Lives Matter, where it relates to law

enforcement, but also that if we took an approach where we unified in dealing with wrongful deaths,
whether it’s the police; whether it’s friends on the block; I think we would have a greater impact on
reducing it, period. You know, I know that a lot of times when there’s a police-involved shooting, whether
it’s somewhere in the United States, somewhere in the United States or in the City of Rochester, the
people rise up and they protest, and I know that as a policeman. it impacts your thinking process of when
you’re in those situations when you feel you might want to - or need to - you deadly force, you tend not to,
you're gonna hesitate, because you know the scrutiny you’re gonna go under. And I think at the same
time, in the neighborhoods, you need to have that same type of response, where people realize that “you
know what, it’s not okay to deal with violence with violence,” I mean to bring violence as the result of a
dispute. So often you hear of a shooting in the street and they’ll say “well you know, that’s the way of the
street.” That shouldn’t be the mindset. The mindset should be “it’s a life, we’re not taking it.” I don’t care if
it’s the police or, uh, a gang banger against another gang banger. We should say there’s a sanctity in life
and I think that we should be able to accomplish, not just, you know, reduction in police shootings, we
could have a reduction in death, period.
Dawson: Jim, I’m sure you’re aware of the, not only the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement,
but a lot of supporters of it, they hear the phrase “all lives matter” and they take it to mean “black lives
don’t matter,” because, let’s be honest, the phrase “black lives matter” means “black lives matter too.” I
can tell you as a white male, white lives always matter. I mean, they’re prior - they’ve been prioritized in
this country. That’s just been sort of our country’s history. And so, are you sort of sensitive to how Black
Lives Matter views the phrase “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter,” or do you disagree with that, that it
means “black lives don’t matter?”
Sheppard: You know, I talk about for 32 years of my police existence was about saving lives, and during
those 32 years it was mainly about saving black lives, because, sadly to say, when we look at the
violence picture, those are the victims. And it’s always mattered to me; being an African-American man,
it’s always something that’s been painful to me. You know, I - you don’t know the pain that i may have
gone through when I roll up on a scene and I see somebody who looks just like me deceased on the
street, or going to somebody’s house who looks just like my mother, telling her, “I’m sorry for what
happened to your son.” So, for me, it’s a matter of, I think people get confused and think that because I
put that uniform on every day that determined who I am, but I was Jim Sheppard before I put that uniform
on and I don’t wear that uniform anymore, so as far as my heart, and where it is and caring for people
who are the victims of violence, is deep.
Dawson: Do you support the Black Lives Matter movement?
Sheppard: I do. I do, and I think in my coming-out speech I referred to their movement relative to how that
was handled, and I know where I would have been coming from, because, number one, with the Occupy
Rochester movement, we were there. We talked to them, we engaged them, we told them what we have
to do. I personally arrested everybody there.
Dawson: Let back up, because I think what you’re referring to is some some your criticism of Mayor
Warren and what sort of happened last summer, if I’m right. So let’s make sure our listeners know what
we’re talking about. So last July, across the country, I think there were a couple dozen cities in one single
night where public demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter. There was a lot that happened last
summer. A lot of instances, a lot of build-up. Rochester had its own demonstrations, and there were
something along the lines of seventy or eighty-plus arrests, one of the highest, if not the highest number
of arrests in any city in the country, where you go to Memphis and other cities and there were zero or very
few, and you were critical of how that was handled, in what specific way, Jim? What was the problem you
had with that?
Sheppard: Number one, I sat there and watched the news, for the first time ever, in my memory, I think,
there was a live feed of a protest in the evening. Usually it’s 6:00 and once rush hour’s done it’s over with.
But this was a live feed, and as I’m watching it, I see it’s not a matter of breaking windows or throwing
bottles, you know, pushing and shoving on the police, it’s a matter of them occupying a section of East
Avenue. And then, during the whole interview, I’m listening to the news anchor ask, “Where’s the mayor?
Where’s the leadership? Where’s the plan?” And I don’t think that the plan was “we’re going to arrest all
these people.” I - I’m not going to put my thoughts into somebody else’s head, but what it appeared to me
was the decision to shut it down at 10:00 and make all these arrests was more tied to economics than to
public safety.
Dawson: The chief of police, Michael Ciminelli, came on this program and said that’s not correct. He said
that for much of the day and into the evening, police were not wearing what they would call protective
gear, what the public calls riot gear; they were not deploying any kind of what the public perceived as
aggression; that they were trying to allow people to demonstrate peacefully, and that only when the

demonstrators got aggressive did they respond with arrests. Chief Ciminelli said that, and he answer the
question, I said “Where was Mayor Warren? Why wasn’t Mayor Warren on this?” We saw mayor’s in other
cities literally linking arm, walking hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm with demonstrators, praying with them, sitting
in the street with them, Mayor Warren was not there and Chief Ciminelli did have an answer for that, and I
want to listen to what Chief Ciminelli said about why we didn’t see Mayor Warren that night.
Michael Ciminelli [recording]: At that point, um, I asked her not to go down there, because that point, un,
the information I got from Commander Morabito about the confrontations that were occurring, one
concern was I wanted to be able to ensure her safety, and secondly, at that point I did not feel her
presnce theree would have been helpful, so, uh, I’ll take the hit for that. That was my request.
Dawson: That’s Chief Ciminelli. Jim, he’s saying, how can you be critical of city hall when he’s making a
direct appeal to her, tonight, just don’t come out.
Sheppard: My position on that is simply this, and I’ve said this a little while ago. Personally, I would not be
afraid of our people, and I’d have been down there on that avenue, one, because they expect me to be
there as the leader of the city, and two, because I think it would have changed the dynamic of the
interactions. I’m gonna go backwards, too, because I’m going to disagree with a statement made that we
didn’t wear certain types of equipment, because I recall that when the group, protestors, went toward the
Museum of Play, there was a skirmish line, there was a photograph, of a skirmish line, where you had
officers lined up with the shields; with the - I call it the ‘Star Wars’ equipment - breast plates, thigh plates,
shin plates, and a line of protestors, basically the picture just static Dawson: During the daytime, I believe.
Sheppard: Yes.
Dawson: Or at least before the sun set.
Sheppard: And that was before the group dismantled and then got back together later in the night.
Dawson: So you’re questioning the narrative put out by the city.
Sheppard: So when I saw that tweet, it was put out on a tweet, I said “this is not gonna end good.” Just by
that presence. And I understand, relative to some other issues that were going on all over the country,
obviously the issues in Dallas had occurred, and I understand that from law enforcement perspective,
there was this apprehensive suggestion “okay, what could happen here, relative to what happened
there?” I understand it, but at the same time, just looking at the appearance of it, I knew was not gonna
end well.
Dawson: And you saying, if you had been mayor, and the chief of police had said to you “Jim, tonight I
can’t guarantee your safety and I don’t think it will help if you’re going to be down here,” you’re going to
overrule that; you’re going down at the scene?
Sheppard: From - my entire existence in the city of Rochester, I haven’t been afraid to go nowhere, and I
wouldn’t be afraid to go anywhere in this city in the future.
Dawson: The mayor didn’t say she was afraid.
Sheppard: No, I’m not saying that, I’m just speaking from my perspective that if the chief told me “I don’t
want you to come,” I’d say “listen dude, you’re going to walk with me and we’re going to go down and talk
to these people.”
Dawson: On the matter of policing, a little bit more and then we’re going to turn over to our phone callers,
as we talk to Jim Sheppard, who’s running for mayor of the City of Rochester.
if I’m remembering that correctly if you want to learn more from his website. He’s the first confirmed
candidate in the race here. There’s also been a lot of people, since you’ve announced, 48 hours ago, and
frankly in the days leading up to when people were aware you were going to be running, sharing some
video that goes back to May 1st, 2013, and the arrest of a man named Benny Warr, and Benny Warr is a
man who is, uh, has one leg, uses a wheelchair to get around, he was waiting for the bus, and the video
shows officers kind of shouting with him, and all of a sudden they take him to the ground, Warr said he
was not only maced, he was kicked in the head; that he had been threatened by an officer, and that, you
know, this is a man wth one leg in a wheelchair being taken to the ground by officers, and the criticism of
you was that you, as chief, you were kind of flippant about it. Instead of saying “look, when we’re wrong,
we’re wrong, and we were wrong here.” Were your officers wrong at that moment?

Sheppard: Relative to an internal investigation that was done, and I believe that, uh, it was complete and
thorough and impartial, it was determined that when they put hands on with Benny Warr, while he was
seated in a wheelchair, he started to fight with them. As a result of that fight, the wheelchair was tipped
over and then they proceeded through he process of handcuffing them, so based on what the officer said,
based on what Benny Warr said, our determination was the use of force was not excessive and that it
was appropriate for the circumstances.
Dawson: And you still feel that way today?
Sheppard: Yes I do.
Dawson: Okay. Do you feel the police made any errors under your term that you can look at and say “that
was excessive,” “that was not well-handled?”
Sheppard: I can say this over my tenure as a policeman, and I want to make this the quickest out there
too. I spent five years in Internal Affairs. Before I went to Internal Affairs, I always said that a policeman
would never do anything wrong, because I had never been around cops who had done anything wrong. In
my tenure in Internal Affairs, and when I left there if you told me a cop did X, Y, and Z, I’d said “it’s
possible,” because the reality of it is, um, cops have done bad things. I don’t think it’s indicative of the law
enforcement community, because in the Rochester Police Department Officer Sheppard did something
that that’s what they all do. And I’ve been in positions where I’ve terminated officers, officers have got
extensive suspensions relative to behaviors or incidents that have occurred, but the key thing for me has
always been about being fair. Fair to the complainant; fair to the officer; and there’s going to be instances
where you and I, and you do that investigation and you’re left with “he-said, she-said,” and so if you don’t
have anything that really adds to that conversation, you can’t really come out and say “I believe that
officer’s wrong,” and you’re not saying the civilian is wrong, either, it’s just unprovable, and so there are
instances where an person will come and say “this happened to me,” and you listen to them and you
believe them, but you can’t prove it. And I think that’s the really frustrating thing a lot of times for civilians;
they know what happened because it happened to them, but the investigation is not able to confirm that,
and so a lot of times that becomes the issue, but I also was adamant that you be fair in the process.
Dawson: Sure, but do you think that people of color are treated differently by police in this country?
Sheppard: I think undoubtedly that’s an obvious circumstance that, um, has come to light, whether it be
videos or different things that, yes, there’ve been instances where police have basically screwed up and
done wrong things, and done criminal things, but you treat singular incidents, instead of it being colored
the badge.
Dawson: Okay. And you think body cameras are going to help?
Sheppard: Tremendously. Tremendously. I think going with the body cameras, um, great move, it was
something that had been discussed prior to me leaving the police department when we had initiated the
police foundation, was one of the things we had discussions about them purchasing them, those body
cams, because it wasn’t something we thought it necessary the budget would be able to absorb, but we
did discuss the possibility of having the foundation looking into that because, number one, it would tell
you the truth, and number two, it would make citizens feel better about those interactions, and in some
instances, it would change the way the citizens interact with them, because once you know you’re on
video, it changes the way you act.
Dawson: Last question before I turn it over to our listeners: The mayor was in here - on the program
recently, as I said, talking about her vision for La Marketa, which Jim has said he would like to see as
well, and during that program, she was asked about why she wasn’t more forceful in taking control of
comments made during the last political campaign about a Republican who ran for state assembly and
won, Joseph Errigo, who grew up, I think on Carter, but grew up in the northeast of the city and hasn’t
been back there in fifty years, or probably hasn’t lived there in fifty years, and what he said on this
program shocked a lot of people. He said he wouldn’t even go down to parts of the city “even in an
armored car.” And then he described it as kind of a wild wild west where bullets are flying all over the
place all the time. The mayor said why didn’t she speak out? Bill Johnson had said if you don’t speak out,
you’re essentially condoning those things. Mayor Warren said she disagreed; certain things don’t even
merit a response; they are so ridiculous, and she didn’t want to draw more attention to it. As mayor, would
you have handled it the same way?
Sheppard: I would have spoke out. I would have spoke out, again, because as being the leader of the city,
the citizens of the city, a lot of times when things happen, people look to you for guidance; they look to

you to fight for them, to speak for them, and I think the citizens of Rochester, particularly the people in the
northeast would have wanted to know that city hall had their back.
Dawson: Are you concerned about the impact on the reputation of neighborhoods that are trying to
continue to improve; to attract new jobs. As you talked about, you want companies to come. Is there a
problem with reputation that reality doesn’t match in this city?
Sheppard: The city of Rochester has suffered relative to violence and crime probably my entire career
here. If you Google, um, “New York state,” you Google “crime,” Rochester is always one of those cities in
terms of violent crime that ranks very high. So it’s something we need to improve, to be priority one. You
know, we talk about bringing in jobs, and how we can improve economic development, the first thing we
need to do is make this city where investors are willing to invest. I equate it to, or, I, uh - the analogy I use
is when you’re trying to sell your house. You can live in your house and leave your clothes laying all over
the place, but when you know somebody’s coming it to take a look you clean it up, you paint, you do all
these things so that when somebody walks in it’s like sparkling clean. Same thing goes for the city. We
have to be in a position where, in terms of crime and certain issues, the city looks good so someone is
willing to invest their money and, uh, make things better for our citizens.
Dawson: Okay, let’s get our only break in for the hours and come right back to your questions to fill out
the hour with Jim Sheppard, the only confirmed candidate for mayor of the city of Rochester this year.
[Connections Theme begins]
Dawson: Coming up in our second hour, a special from American Public Media, “Say It Loud” traces the
last fifty years of black history through historically important speeches from African-Americans across the
political spectrum.You’ll hear Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, Toni Morrison,
Colin Powell, and others. “Say It Loud,” next hour.
Welcome back to Connections, I’m Evan Dawson, my guest is James Sheppard, he’s running for mayor,
he is a Democrat, and he is running against, well, we would assume, Mayor Lovely Warren, if she decides
to run for reelection, we could also see longtime journalist Rachel Barnhart enter the race, but she has
not formally declared, even though she has put together the makings of a campaign. Right now we have
one confirmed candidate, and he’s our guest in-studio, and we have Noah from Rochester first on the
phones. Go ahead, Noah.
Noah [on the phone]: Hi Mr. Sheppard, my question for you is I think I saw somewhere this weekend that
you have only vote against the Office of Public Integrity of the county and I was confused by that and
wondering why you did that.
Dawson: Thank you, Noah, and just a little bit of background here, there is an office of public integrity that
Cheryl DiNolfo and Monroe County created. Jim is a county legislator and when they voted to create the
office, they created certain parameters, and 28 out of 29 votes, you were the only no vote. Why did you
vote no?
Sheppard: When they initially did the legislation for the office of Inspector General, it was just “create the
office,” and I think I, at the time, provided them with the national standards for those types of offices, and
they did make some significant changes in the legislation. However, what stood out to me was the history
of Monroe County and the corruption that has existed over the previous twelve years and the arrests that
had come as a result of that. I felt it was very important to include an independent committee to determine
who should be the director of the offices of the Inspector General. And I say that because, um, it’s like
having a really good watchdog. That watchdog isn’t going to bite the hand that feeds it, but an
independent director would be able to do his job without being beholden to anybody, and I thought that
was important enough for me to be able to say “you know what, I do want an office of Inspector General
but at the same time, if you don’t go” - somebody said, at the same time, “it meets the standard.”
Standards aren’t supposed to be met, they’re just the basement. You should be trying to reach the roof. I
felt that the legislation didn’t go far enough.
Dawson: Okay. So you - Jim voted no because he wanted to see the standards even tougher. Let me get
back to the phones, Matthew in Rochester. Go ahead, Matthew.
[no response]
Dawson: Matthew, go ahead.
[no response]

Dawson: Matthew, not there, let me grab Dan in Rochester next. Go ahead, Dan.
Dan [on the phone]: Hi, uh, my question is, like, things seem to be going pretty well downtown, but I see
so many vacant buildings when I drive around the city. What are you going to do about that?
Dawson: Thank you Dan. Jim, vacant buildings in Rochester.
Sheppard: Well, he specifically mentioned downtown, and I think that what we’ve seen, um, with
downtown, which has been a significant, um, improvement, is ever since they took the buses off
downtown and moved them to the transit center, uh, your’e seeing that a lot of developers are jumping all
over these properties and they are valuable, and I think that by having a process of working with the city,
and being transparent, and seeing what the city can do, and take advantage of these properties; that’s
what we have to do, put ourselves in a position where they want to invest into downtown. And I think
making them want to invest, making the city safer, make it a situation where if we give them, uh, tax,
COMIDA funds, whatever breaks, there should be some conditions relative to who works there and who
lives there in terms of them being city residents.
Dawson: All right. Okay. Are we handing out too many tax breaks to developers who want them? I mean,
the developers, do they have an advantage where they can say to the city “we don’t want to come to the
city unless you give us a great deal.” Would you change the way that works?
Sheppard: I think that two things are in play. In terms of giving tax breaks, I think that we’re at a period of
time where it was hard to bring people into here to invest. So, we came up with this strategy where we’ll
give breaks, and I think they have helped people come in and take advantage of it, but I also think that
what I said about some changes in terms of transportation downtown have made these properties more
valuable, so now we many not have to always give away something to get something. And then I think
that if we bring people in, there should be conditions in terms of who they hire, and it should be city
Dawson: All right, Matthew back on the line, go ahead Matthew.
Matthew [on the phone]: Hi, um, I happen to believe that the best answer to poverty is through jobs and
job creation, so how are you going to get more jobs to Rochester.
Dawson: Well, we were just talking about jobs, but lets hit poverty. Is the poverty initiative doing a good
job, Jim?
Sheppard: I can’t say whether they’ve done a good job because I don’t think the numbers have changed.
Dawson: And it’s a long term. We can’t expect this to be in six months; twelve months; eighteen months,
to be fair.
Sheppard: Poverty is a long road to hoe, as my parents used to say, a long wrong to hoe. It’s not going to
change overnight. I do think it’s something, Andrew Young said, last year, when he came to RIT, relative
to Martin LutherKing weekend, he talked about in Atlanta, they did all these initiatives on poverty and
trying to help people in the city and trying to change the dynamics of it, and what they found was that it
just made more people come. He put out there that until you do something providing jobs for people to
work their way out of poverty, that is really gonna be the only solution, to prepare people for the jobs, and
the jobs have to be there to take advantage of. And that was just for that particular city was able to
overcome their poverty problem, to some extent. And so I think that really, for Rochester, and I don’t know
the full extent of what their plans are and job readiness and preparation and bringing in, um, work, over
the long haul, the only way out of poverty is education and a job.
Dawson: Okay. Back to the phones and David in Rochester, next up. Go ahead, David.
David [on the phone]: Good afternoon, gentlemen. I was inspired by a speech given recently by Mayor de
Blasio of New York, and I wanted to tell you, Mr. Sheppard, that I will only vote to elect, or re-elect, a
mayor of Rochester who publicly agrees with Mr. de Blasio's promises, and I’d like to tell you what he
said. I’m quoting him directly, he said “If all Muslims are required to register, we will take legal action to
block it.” He said “If there are threats to federal funding to Planned Parenthood, we will ensure women
receive the healthcare they need.” And he said “If Jews or Muslims or members of the LGBT community
or any community are victimized and attacked we will find their attackers, we will arrest them, we will
prosecute them.” In other words, this mayor is daring to stand up to what’s happening at the federal level
with the election of Donald Trump, and I would like to hear you promise Rochesterians that you will agree

with Mayor de Blasio’s promises and you will protect us as de Blasio has promised to protect New
Dawson: All right, David, thank you. Go ahead, Jim.
Sheppard: Done.
Dawson: That was easy, I guess.
Sheppard: Very easy.
Dawson: You’re a Democrat, I assume you’re not a Trump voter. What alarms you most about the next
president, Jim?
Sheppard: Whoo. Well, first of all, I don’t think he puts a lot of thought into what he has to say. Um,
obviously his - I don’t think he doesn’t like people, and I think he doesn’t like people who don’t look like
him. And I think that’s a problem or our nation. I think it’s brought out those people who, you know, over
the years - I’m going to back up. When I grew up, I grew up in the south. My family’s from Atlanta. The
thing about racism down there, at the time, it was very in-your-face. When we moved to the north, it was a
little more subdued, and I think that’s what we’ve seen over the last 40-50 years, racism has become
subdued to an extent, and what Trump has done is gave people permission to bring that out, and that’s
what we’ve seen, is once the election came in you saw people putting swastikas on school buildings and
people just saying whatever they felt because they felt “now, we can really say what we believe or show
what we feel.” So I think in terms of what we do as we move forward, the states, the cities, the
municipalities have to stand up and say “we’re not going to tolerate certain things.” And I think with the
right resistance, from governmental officials, he would not be able to accomplish his agenda in those
Dawson: All right, on Twitter Jack says “Will Mr. Sheppard reinstitute the red light cameras at intersections
where they might have improved safety?” That’s from Jack. Jim?
Sheppard: Obviously the red light cameras were instituted before I came into play, actually one month
before I came into play. They were voted on in October, and then they were installed and I came in in
November. I was a staunch believe that the role of the red light cameras was to change driving behavior,
it was safety. I understand that at some point people felt that it targeted different intersections where
people color or minorities would pass through, mostly. I knew from my time in the police department that
they way that we knew where to put the cameras was based on data, where we’re having accidents;
where people are getting injured, and that’s how we determined where to put the camera. I don’t think it’s
a situation where we’re going to re-institute them just with a change of mayorship, but I do think it’s sort of
disingenuous [sic] to remove them at this time.
Dawson: Okay, Ginny says “Does he believe in government consolidation including school districts in
Monroe County to reduce inequality?”
Sheppard: Yes. I think in terms of the school district and, you know, number one, I don’t see it happening,
but I really believe that we have all these conversations about poverty and education and how to improve
our schools, one thing that would do that is consolidated school district for Monroe County. Take that out
of play, I think we need to go to a regional system where we have regional schools, magnate schools,
where people from different demographics with different economic situations can come together, go to
school together, and impact each other relative to diversity, relative to hope, because I know that when
you’re a young kid and you’re growing in an environment where success is determined to be hanging out
on a corner and you’re going to school with somebody who, their father is a dentist, and you realize “you
know what, I could be a dentist too.” That creates hope and possibilities for people in terms of how they
envision where they can go, you know, and I talked about how, you know, coming to the police
department and going “you know what, I want to be the chief.” That’s what you need to see young adults
or kids to see. “You know what, I want to be the president of the United States.” I’m sure that at some
point Barack Obama said that, and he made it happen. I think that’s what we need to do, put our kids in a
situation where it’s not segregated as a school district, because school is very segregated in the city of
Rochester. We need to change that dynamic.
Dawson: But, Jim, if you’re elected, are you going to put it as a policy that you want to see county-wide
schools even though you think it may be politically unlikely, would you push for it, or do you think it’s such
a non-starter that you’ll focus, for example, on magnate schools right out of the gate?

Sheppard: I think in terms of moving the agenda, um, nothing’s wrong with having the impossible dream,
but I do think that if you start with something that can be done, you can move the agenda forward instead
of saying “I’m going to fight for Dawson: Shoot for the moon
Sheppard: - and never get there.” But I think that magnate schools; regional schools, would really be a
great move forwards.
Dawson: Are you working with any groups like Great Schools For All or anybody else about that?
Sheppard: I have met with them, I think they’ve put some wonderful ideas on the table. Like I said, I agree
with their platform, they see the same things, with the segregation we see in the city school district, with
the segregation based on economics, we are creating the cycle of poverty, and I don’t think we’re gonna
get out of it unless we change our schooling system. And I think the question was about metro
government, I think that, um, we gotta get away so much fro our little kingdoms. You know, think of it,
we’ve got twelve different police departments in the city, I mean in the county. You’ve got, probably, twelve
different supervisors and mayors. We really need to think in terms of what’s best for the citizens of
Rochester and Monroe County and come up with a system that will, in terms of money; in terms of taxes;
in terms of development, we really think of it regionally instead of little kingdoms.
Dawson: All right, I’ve got about forty seconds left, you’ve mentioned transparency a number of times,
and if you’re mayor, what do you mean by transparency that would be different than what we see at city
hall now?
Sheppard: One of the things I did as police chief is every quarter, I put out crime stats. And the reason I
put them out every quarter was because I wanted people not based on fear, nor based on what they
heard through their conversations over dinner, they would know where we stood on a quarterly basis. I
think in terms of how we handle RFPs, a consistent process, and people should pretty much know how
they’re going to be judged when they submit for those RFPs instead of going into a closet and then when
the light of day hits on it, each time it’s a little bit different. I think in terms of people being able to city
down with city government and work on what they want to see in their neighborhoodsa; that should part of
what the role of government is, not to dictate, but to facilitate.
Dawson: All right, Jim Sheppard is running for mayor of the city of Rochester, the first officially-declared
candidate. Jim, how quickly do you think we’ll see more of the details and
policy on your website and going forward here?
Sheppard: One of the things I’d like to do is take the opportunity to continue my tour, as I call it, of sitting
down with the various stakeholders and getting their thoughts and start putting it into policy statements is
how I’d like to go forward. In terms of public safety, I have some things in mind, because that’s where I
came from; that’s important to me.
Dawson: All right, so we’re going to see that in the weeks to come. I’m sure we’ll see James Sheppard
back on this program. Mayor Warren, if she decides run for re-election, we’ll have an open door here;
anybody else who decides to run, whether it’s Rachel Barnhart or others, we will see them here and they
will hear from you as well. Have a great afternoon and talk to you tomorrow.