ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — 2021 has already broken the record for the deadliest year in Rochester’s history with 79 murders thus far. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Monday said according to a new study, homicides are up 126% over the past five years, (and compared to last year, a 67% jump).

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says we cannot accept this as our norm. 

“We seem to be whitewashing the fact — how many people have been shot, 400 people. How many people murdered in our community, how many lives are destroyed,” he said.

Baxter says the toughest thing to answer right now is why Rochester’s homicide rate is so alarming.

“One of the glaring facts is how different we are from our sister cities up and down the thruway,” he said.

Over the past five years, Buffalo is seeing a 33% increase, while Syracuse has a 9% increase. He feels there’s a ‘perfect storm’ in Rochester.

“You look at things like structural racism, you look at poverty, you look at COVID, all the underlying causes, they’re there,” the sheriff said.

Part of the issue he adds are some criminal justice reforms, like bail.

“If someone is a repeat offender doing the same actions over and over, if someone is a flight risk, if someone is a danger to themselves or other people, and we can show that to a judge, we should be able to detain those people,” he said.

Baxter feels among city residents– there might be greater distrust of law enforcement. To solve this, he feels a focus needs to be put on families and young people, also, the attitude towards law enforcement needs to change– while also delivering on reforms that work.

“It can be done at the same time. That’s the problem. Everyone’s stuck in fox holes and doesn’t want to talk to each other,” the sheriff said.