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Protesters march on Rochester as mayor announces police reforms

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Protesters in Rochester, N.Y., marched for a fifth consecutive night Sunday against the police-involved death of Daniel Prude as the mayor announced law enforcement reforms and called for calm.

The Rochester police department said 1,000 protesters had turned out Sunday night and had descended upon the Public Safety Building.

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"Let's work together to keep everyone safe!!" the department said on Twitter.

Protests erupted in the city after police-worn camera footage of Prude's encounter with police in March was released on Wednesday, prompting his family and activists to call for RPD to be better trained to handle mental health crises.

Prude, 41, died March 30, one week after he was detained during what his family described as a mental health episode.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren earlier Sunday announced during a press conference that the availability of mental health officials will be doubled at that the crisis intervention unit and its budget will be moved from the police department to the city's Department of Youth and Recreation Services.

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"It is my solemn duty as the mayor of this city to honor Mr. Prude, to not let his death be in vain and to do everything possible to transform how we police our city, to truly protect and serve our residents," she said.

Warren said a group of church elders was to be bussed in for Sunday night to create a buffer between the police and protesters while calling for the situation to de-escalate.

"No one of us can do anything alone," she said. "It takes people reaching across, working together to ensure we have a brighter future."

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Police chief La'Ron Singletary told reporters during the press conference that police reforms are moving forward and vowed to work with the community to protect the protesters' First Amendment rights.

"We want to make sure that Mr. Prude's death changes how we do policing in this city," he said. "Moving forward, we are dedicated to taking the necessary actions to prevent this from ever happening again."

A day after the video was released, Warren announced the suspension of seven police officers and apologized to the Prude family and on Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James moved to empanel a grand jury as part of its investigation into Prude's death.

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