ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — At home and across the US, violent crime is seeing a historic surge. Thursday, Rochester passed a grim milestone: 71 deaths — making 2021 the deadliest year in history for the city. News 8 spoke with former Rochester Police Chief Dr. Cedric Alexander — now a national crime prevention consultant — who is saying this is an issue police cannot do alone.

As Rochester hit its mark Thursday as the deadliest year on record, Dr. Cedric Alexander says there’s no simple solution to correct it. 

“Police cannot fix this by themselves, and let me be very clear about that,” he says

Alexander served as deputy chief for the Rochester Police Department from 2002 to 2005, then as chief from 2005 to 2006. He says the violence is being exacerbated by a number of issues: the pandemic, bail reform, poverty, and access to education. He says right now, it’s all hands on deck. 

“We have to do something to stand together against this, we’ve got to do more than just march in the streets,” he says.

In 1991, Rochester had 69 homicides, the previous record holder for murders. Alexanders says violent years come in waves. 

“It is up, but it’s not quite up like it was in the early 90’s,” he says adding, “In a year or two, it will go down, and it goes back up, it goes down, it goes back up.”

But he says we have to look at trends specific to 2021. If they become normalized, we’re in trouble. “We want to make sure this just doesn’t become a normal trend for us,” he says.

The national conversation on police reform needs to happen, he says. Alexander also says police can’t do everything. 

“We need to define EXACTLY what it is we want police to do in this 21st Century, Christian,” he says.

He says more needs to be done to stand up social service organizations to engage problem neighborhoods. A whole community working together he says can solve this. 

“Rochester’s challenged on a whole lot of different levels,” he says adding, “Violence cannot be tolerated in our communities.”