ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Interim Rochester Police Chief David Smith hosted a Tuesday afternoon press conference for an end of year review of 2021.
Rochester recorded 81 homicides in 2021, making it the city’s deadliest year in history. Of the 81 homicides, Chief Smith said 41 cases have been closed for a 50.6% clearance rate.
“This violence is not something we’re going to be able to arrest ourselves out of,” Chief Smith said.
The police chief said violent crime is still up from the 2020 spike, but he said property crime is down, including burglaries in larcenies. He said 13 bank robberies resulted in 11 arrests, with two recent investigations still ongoing.
The police chief said Rochester police collected 994 firearms in 2021, including 162 handguns and 284 long guns. He said those recovery efforts include 2021 gun buyback programs, adding that 45 were “ghost guns.”
On drug investigations, the police chief said 147 narcotic-based search warrants were executed, resulting in 20 kilograms of cocaine, 5 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl, 223 pounds of marijuana, and $1.2 million in case being seized.
The police chief says the department will build upon existing initiatives that target known and violent offenders, and continue to work with Rochester Mayor Malik Evans on community-based efforts.
The police chief added that the RPD will continue to assist with the U.S. Marshals Task Force locally, in conjunction with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Smith said this coordinated effort led to 350 arrests, including 70 who were wanted by Rochester police.
The police chief said the issue of gun violence cannot be solved by police alone.
“Rochester needs a comprehensive violent outreach initiative that involves outreach, street workers, social programs and intervention,” Smith said. “The answer cannot be found solely in the Rochester Police Department. There must be collaboration, trust, and support.”
The police chief said 2022 is going to be “challenging” for RPD due tot he current staffing situation, with officers being subjected to extra amount of workload and stress.
“It’s something we take very seriously,” Smith said. “So much so that we made the Officer Wellness and Resiliency Unit.”
The chief said that unit will be rolled out later this year and is designed, specifically, to improve officers’ wellbeing. He added that the department will be broadening its recruiting efforts as well in an attempt to reduce staffing stress on the department.
According to Rochester Police Captain Frank Umbrino, the homicides per year in Rochester date back to 1970, as he added that record keeping in the past, and before then, wasn’t as reliable as it is in the present.
According to RPD records, 2021’s 81 homicides were 13 more than the previous record of 86 set in 1993. The homicides per year in Rochester, according to police, are as follows:
Chief Smith was sworn into the position back in October after former interim Chief Cynthia Herriott Sullivan announced her resignation the week prior.
Smith served as the Deputy Chief of operations as part of Herriott-Sullivan’s command staff and has been a member of the Rochester Police Department since 1992.
Smith becomes Rochester’s fourth acting police chief since last September when La’Ron Singletary was fired by Mayor Lovely Warren in the aftermath of Daniel Prude’s death.