ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello joined Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter, Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, and Interim Rochester Police Chief David Smith Thursday afternoon to announce a “violence response initiative.”
That initiative includes a proposal for an $8.5 million investment over the next five years to bolster the sheriff’s department so it can better assist the Rochester Police Department’s effort in reducing gun violence in the city.
“I don’t want anyone in my county to live in fear, in their own home,” Bello said. “The scourage of violence, illegal guns and shootings, and homicides must end. Our residents deserve better and it’s going to take the entire community, working together, to resolve this.”
“The challenges that we have in the city affect our entire community,” Evans said. “The city is the heartbeat, and if the heartbeat is weak, the body will fall by the wayside. This investment is on time and critical.”
The county investment into city law enforcement will provide 11 new full-time deputy positions that will work in coordination with the RPD and its Major Crimes Unit. According to the sheriff, five additional deputies will be assigned to the office’s tactical unit.
“That will give us enough resources to deploy in a proactive mode,” Baxter said. “That will help stabilize our patrol zones. We cannot leave our zones with an insufficient amount of deputies.”
According to the Baxter, this investment represents the first time the Monroe County Sherrif’s Office is expanding its staffing in three decades.
“These 11 new deputies will offer full-time support for violent crime response while also keeping the current sheriff’s office zones fully staffed, plus they will add the backup to the Rochester Police Department as needed,” Bello said.
The sheriff also said another deputy will be assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) task force, with a focus on the illegal gun trade in Rochester.
The local leaders said the funding will also support more re-entry programs for people exiting the Monroe County Jail.
“There’s a proven model of address people we know who are involved in violent activity,” Baxter said. “Calling them to the table and offering the services and resources to help straighten their life out. To break that cycle of violence before they get out of jail.”
“Almost every person in that jail, unless they have done something heinous, will come out into the streets,” Evans said. “If they do not have direction on where they will go, they will wreak havoc again and it will be a revolving door. Want that to be the last time in jail — unless they’re becoming a deputy.”
Last week, the Rochester Police Department announced a new partnership with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police to provide additional parols within the city. Officials said this new effort was due to an “unprecedented” staffing shortage and a recent rise in violent crime.
Authorities said the new collaborative patrols took effect immediately in specific areas of the city where “prolific” gun-related violence occurs. According to the RPD, nearly 100% of Rochester’s shootings are happening on 11% of the city’s street segments.
“These target enforcement areas will see a difference real soon,” Smith said during Thursday’s press conference.
Rochester set a record last year with 81 homicides and is on pace for more than that in 2022.
According to Rochester police Lt. Greg Bello last month, RPD is down on staffing by about 70 sworn personnel. He said a new class of academy members is currently underway to get more officers on board but that process is lengthy in and of itself. It takes about 18 months to complete the hiring phase, then there are about 10 to 12 months of on-the-job training.
You can watch the full press conference below:
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