RPD Chief Ciminelli ’78 receives Contributions to Justice Award

Police must continue to ‘do better,’ he says




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A. Sue Weisler

Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli, a 1978 graduate in criminal justice, received the Contributions to Justice Award Friday at the Senior Luncheon and Recognition Celebration put on by the Department of Criminal Justice and RIT’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives.

Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli said when he was studying criminal justice at Rochester Institute of Technology, he was mostly excited about becoming a police officer, but not so much about the science of enforcing the law.

 “However, my time at RIT planted a seed, that maybe the debate should be more than ‘tough on crime’ versus ‘easy on crime.’ Maybe there was a third option: figure out how to be smart on crime.”

Ciminelli, who graduated from RIT in 1978, made his remarks Friday as he received the Contributions to Justice Award at the Senior Luncheon and Recognition Celebration put on by RIT’s Department of Criminal Justice and Center for Public Safety Initiatives.

The event also recognized 20 RIT criminal justice majors.

After graduation, Ciminelli worked with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and police departments in Elmira and Rochester, where he has been chief since 2014.

“As I have progressed through my career, I have had the opportunity to see the police profession in this country evolve and improve over the years,” Ciminelli said. “We have also learned that we still have a long way to go in building trust and partnership with the communities we serve. But the seed that was planted in me at RIT many years ago continues to grow and flourish. And I believe, that for all our problems and challenges, we can do better, and we will do better.”

Ciminelli thanked RIT for the work it does through the Center for Public Safety Initiatives, which conducts research to help improve the criminal justice system in Rochester, across the state and nationally.

“The partnership, research and perspective you provide has made a substantial contribution,” Ciminelli said. “Most importantly, you are preparing young people to be leaders and innovators in all phases of the criminal justice system in the future. I ask that you continue to grow, to learn, to question, to innovate, and to challenge conventional thinking. Make the commitment to do better.”

The students honored include:

Thomas C. Castellano Award, for seniors with outstanding academic success:

  • Melissa Burmester of East Moriches, N.Y.
  • Liam Fanning of Commack, N.Y.
  • Abigail Hallowell of Rochester, N.Y.
  • Luca Ignatowski of Austin, Texas.
  • Shakierah Smith of Rochester.

Richard B. Lewis Award, for juniors with outstanding academic success:

  • Dylan Buchholz of Fort Montgomery, N.Y.
  • Rhianna Hayes of Canandaigua, N.Y.

Foucault Award, for a second-year student leader in academic and community activities:

  • Jessica Burt of Hamlin, N.Y.

Goffman Award, for a first-year student leader in academic and community activities:

  • Libnah Rodriguez of Rochester.

Matthew Sullivan Memorial Scholarship:

  • Alexis Pawluk, a third-year student from Naples, N.Y.

Shaw and McKay Award, for a master’s student who produced locally relevant research:

  • Chaquan Smith of New York, N.Y.

Center for Public Safety Initiatives’ Excellence in Research Award:

  • Jessica Burt of Hamlin, N.Y.
  • Liam Fanning of Commack, N.Y.
  • Jose Gratereaux De Los Santos of Victor, N.Y.
  • Nathaniel Le Mahieu of Hortonville, Wis.
  • Jaleesa Panico of Rochester.
  • Libnah Rodriguez of Rochester.
  • Chaquan Smith of New York, N.Y.
  • Luisa Swan of Liverpool, N.Y.
  • Christopher Sweadner of West Hartford, Conn.

Contributions to the Center for Public Safety Initiatives:

  • Aaron Baxter of Oswego, N.Y.
  • Keith Ericksen of Evanston, Ill.
  • James Herrman of Slingerlands, N.Y.
  • Tayler Ruggero of Langhorne, Pa.