ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday the end of phase one of Operation Guardian.
The operation began May 17 and resulted in 60 arrests. Five of those arrests were for homicides. Officials say the number of homcide arrests by the Task Force in the first half of 2021 already is the same as the total number of homicide arrests by the team in 2020.
The Task Force was made up of local, state and federal agencies, including the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, and New York State Police.
MCSO said they are now transitioning into Phase 2, with an “unprecedented inter-agency approach” to counter the alarming violence the city has seen recently.
“We have kids with AK-47s, AR-15s, doing daytime assassinations, utilizing team tactics. We have never seen anything like that,” said Sheriff Todd Baxter with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Baxter announced multiple steps Thursday as part of Phase 2 to help support the Rochester Police Department. He says most of the violence in the city is gang-related and is “targeted” and even “talented.”
The task force will continue its effort under Operation Guardian with the following lines of operation forming the basis of Phase II:
- MCSO and the DA will surge the RPD Patrol Sections Investigations, supporting immediate investigations of violent crime. These resources will focus on gun interdiction, shooting incidents and serve violent felony warrants. MCSO and the DA’s office will provide supervisors, undercover, uniformed and K9 deputies, and investigators from the DA’s office.
- Working with the County, MCSO will begin a program where social workers will be brought into homes after a person is arrested for gun related offenses. Our goal is to stabilize the home and provide support, thus reducing the potential for more violence.
- The United States Marshall Office will concentrate their efforts to each RPD Section’s wanted boards, finding these violent offenders. The United States Marshall Office will bring in additional marshals from other regions.
- We will support neighborhoods by providing uniformed high visibility patrols. Patrols will be increased in hot spot areas identified by RPD. The intent is to provide a sense of peace
community, be a deterrent effect and respond to calls for service related to shootings for immediate apprehension and safety. Multiple agencies will be paired up with RPD, to show the public the support of law enforcement based on community requests.
- We will seek rewards for illegal gun information, working with Crime Stoppers will provide funds for information that leads to the arrest of persons related to violent crimes.
- We will build a transparent and timely update system that provides mapping, trends and other pertinent information related to shootings and those responsible for committing them.
- Working with state and local partners we will build a system inside the jail similar to Operation Ceasefire to steer people way from violence.
- Monroe County Probation will increase community conversations and engagement. Probation will continue to work with local law enforcement agencies to combat violence by holding probationers accountable, and providing behavioral intervention programming and other resources to break the cycle of violent thought patterns and behaviors.
- We will hold bi-weekly collaboration meetings with our community and law enforcement partners to build next steps and update the community of future initiatives.
Law enforcement agencies say they have limited resources right now and their focus has to be on violence.
“If it ain’t about calls for service, that we are responsible for, then it needs to be about violence, so whatever that looks like, the manpower and adjustments will be made,” Sheriff Baxter said.
This plans were announced at a T.I.P.S. event Thursday, which stands for trust information programs and services.
Music, food and horse rides were available for free for the community. The goal is to build trust and relationships with the community. Some officers and community members also went door-to-door to speak to neighbors about safety and what they would like to see changed in their community.
This is the first T.I.P.S. event of the year. Last year, the events were canceled due to the pandemic.
“I cannot tell you how many inquires we got from the state police, from the DA, from RPD from a lot of law enforcement officials because this is an opportunity for people to meet law enforcement in a setting like this where they can literally sit out and talk to them, break bread with them, laugh with them, they can get a better understanding of who they are and how they are here to protect them,” said James McCauley , Director for Community Initiatives for Camp Good Days and Special Times.
McCauley said the community needs to come together to help stop the violence and he’s hoping the event allows them to make some change.
“Isn’t it time? Isn’t it time to just stop all the rhetoric, stop all the finger pointing and sit down at the table, this is a multi faceted issue, there is wrong and right on both sides. So it’s time to put the nonsense aside and start the dialogue about how we can make this a better community, a better city,” McCauley said.