ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County and City of Rochester officials announced a new criminal justice data-tracking tool that will soon be available for residents.

It’s called Commons and it makes data from the district attorney’s office and law enforcement public.

The announcement was made Monday by members of the Rochester Police Department, the Monroe County District’s Attorney’s Office, and local-based nonprofit group Measures for Justice.

Commons is a free platform that makes accurate, local criminal justice data available to the public.

It was first adopted by Yolo County in California earlier in April. Monroe County will be the fifth place in the nation to take on what users call “a co-created space between law enforcement and the public.”

According to officials, the platform was picked-up by the city in the name of transparency.

“It is our mission to promote positive, systemic and structural change by providing transparency and collaborative leadership,” Rochester Mayor, Malik Evans said. “This project aligns with that mission
and enhances our already robust efforts to provide public safety information on the Rochester Police Department Open Data Portal. It is critical that citizens trust the government that serves them as we work to reduce violence and improve public safety in our community.”

The digital dashboard of Commons will offer users and residents access to the following:

  • Track monthly data on how cases flow through RPD and the District Attorney’s Office.
  • Follow progress toward criminal justice goals set by community representatives, District Attorney’s Office and RPD.
  • Observe trends across monthly and yearly measures.
  • Break down data by demographics like race and ethnicity, sex, age, etc.
  • Share findings directly with policymakers and media.
  • Enables users to easily filter through data by defendant characteristics.

Officials from the district attorney’s office say the platform will go live and be available for use beginning this Summer.

Measures of Justice will work alongside a Community Advisory Board (CAB) that will represent residents of Monroe County. Together the two will collect data from the district office and police department, and hold discussions about the area’s current criminal justice climate in order to establish data-driven goals.

Community members representing the CAB are expected to meet every other month with the D.A. to agree on what data needs to be displayed on the platform. Officials say the platform’s data is updated on a monthly basis.

Violence in Rochester peaked last year when the city recorded a total of 81 homicides — breaking the record for the deadliest year in its history. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said the number of homicides last year jumped by 67% compared to 2020 after conducting a study in December.

Since the new year, the city has appointed a new mayor in Malik Evans. During his time in office, the Democrat’s administration has pushed to change the city’s violence prevention measures. The mayor has pitched youth programs, centralizing anti-violence programs, and has urged residents to use resources available to them.

Police officials have long supported that violence cannot end until the community comes together. Adopting a new data system like Commons may create new partnerships between locals and police.

“The Rochester Police Department understands that in order to best serve our city, we must continue to commit ourselves to transparency and accountability,” said Interim Rochester Police Chief David Smith said. “Measures for Justice has developed a new model for bringing the community and police together. The RPD Commons pilot will leverage our data as an asset providing deeper insight, narrative, and context around jointly defined metrics to help us protect the city that we love and ensure that residents are safe and thriving.”

Commons is developed in Rochester by Measures for Justice. The non-profit’s mission is to “change the future of criminal justice by developing tools that help communities and the institutions that serve them reshape how the system works,” according to the platform’s website.

Organizers say the project will be funded by local philanthropists and the county’s district office.

For additional information on Commons, visit the project’s website.