ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Police are saying with this unprecedented spike in violence across the City, it’s important now more than ever to continue community outreach.
Last month during a shooting on Weld Street, our photographer Jay Gardner took a short video of Lt. Steve Swetman passing out books and stuffed animals to a frightened youngster. The video received thousands of views on Twitter.
Swetman passes out the goods to help ease nerves during tense scenes. “We’ve been responding to many violent acts lately. A lot of shootings, a lot of stabbings and violence … and these kids are around it.”
Around 30 police officers were on the scene, with a lot of lights and sirens. Swetman says no doubt upsetting to so many in the neighborhood, particularly a kid like this.
“Mom told me he was shaken up, and as we were talking, it didn’t even click, it took about two minutes and I said ‘ah, I’ve got the books and bears in my trunk,'” says Swetman.
The books and bears from the Browncroft Community Church. They wanted to give the RPD these tools to help youngsters cope with these difficult situations. Adam Divincentis with the Police Locust Club says this small act, is huge.
“A lot of our members just go out and try to put that little extra effort in, it’s not something the community often sees,” says Divincentis.
Swetman saying he hopes these acts make a difference in the community. He knows at least with this exchange, it did. “He lit up a little bit, he did,” adding, “Whether it makes an impact for the rest of their life, or just helps them out for the next 15-20 minutes, it’s better than nothing for sure.”
The Books & Bears program was created by the Warren Administration.
Swetman has been on the force for 15 years. And of course, this First Responders Spotlight segment is brought to you by Bill Gray’s.