Local crime prevention activists, businessmen call for extension to VIPER operation

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) – The V.I.P.E.R Taskforce is less than a week away from ending its initial 60-day operation which has activists and businesses in Rochester concerned as new waves of violent crime come through.  

In many neighborhoods, this has become a common sight, memorial setups at street corners where someone’s family members or close friend lost their life due to senseless gun violence. People believe there are many ways this can be stopped but one key weapon is the VIPER Taskforce.  

At the beginning of August, the U.S Attorneys Office of Western New York already reported 196 arrests had been made for wanted criminals involved with illegal gun trafficking, drugs, and murder. Results locals found promising.  

“Right now with firearms and stuff like that, illegal firearm sales issues have gone down because nobody can get them,” Rochester Businessman Marcus Williams said. “Because the V.I.P.E.R Task Force is here putting pressure on the people.”  

More than 50 illegal firearms as of the start of August have been confiscated by Federal and State Agents assisting Rochester Police. Since homicides died down through most of July, some want to see V.I.P.E.R operations get extended.  

“I think that it’s very impactful. I think it should be extended,” Williams argued. “Because a large part of what they’re doing is giving us the ability to do something that a lot of police hands have been tied for because of the bail reform.”  

“We will continue to see a reduction in violence and then a slight increase,” Mike Johnson with Save Rochester believed. “If they leave right away then I think we could see a spike in violence.”  

But going forward, they want the focus of V.I.P.E.R to invest more into tackling what the community calls systemic problems many face resorting to crime or violence to get by.  

“If people are coming out of jail or prison, they need the resources like jobs before they get out,” Williams told us. “So, they can help provide for themselves and have a better way. They need better housing options.”  

In the last seven days, Rochester Experienced 15 shootings with three ending deadly. It was the first time the city saw three homicides occurring within a week since the Fourth of July.  

We reached out numerous times to Rochester Police and the U.S Attorney John Kennedy Jr. Office to ask what their plans are in the future to help the city and updated arrests, but we have not heard back.

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