ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, newly appointed interim police Chief, Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, and Rochester City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot held a press conference on Friday to announce efforts on gun violence reduction in the community.
Earlier this week, data released from the Rochester Police Department shows the city has seen 219 shootings this year. After a fatal shooting on Frost Avenue Tuesday evening, the city has had 31 shooting deaths and 275 total shooting victims — compared to 104 at this time in 2019.
“While keeping ourselves safe from the pandemic is a priority, we are also facing another challenge. The level of violence is unacceptable. Simply put, we have ensure the safety of our community, There’s no justification for firing a bullet in anger,” Warren said.
“It’s essential that we put dispute solutions at the forefront. 60% of all shootings are from ongoing personal disputes,” Warren said. “We need to end the revolving door of repeating offenders and are hiring an additional Pathways-to-Peace team and get in the middle of the escalation, before they get into more violence.”
The additional staffing of the Pathways-to-Peace program will provide an additional 120 hours of weekly outreach and increase the programs hours until 3 a.m. — Thursdays through Saturdays.
The plans include an increase in police patrols in violence hotspots, expanded dispute resolution intervention and an enhanced partnership to track the source of illegal guns.
“Lake, Genesee, Goodman, Clinton and Central — these are of the patrol areas and we want to incorporate them in the model of community policing,” Herriott-Sullivan said.
Each section captain is responsible for developing a specific plan for their area. The plan states it will use groups like Pathways-to-Peace, Clergy-on-Patrol, and others if needed.
One man arrive on scene and publicly criticized the announcement. “We’re getting ready to do the same thing that what Bob Duffy did, put more police on the street and more black people in jail,” Justin Morris said. A former City of Rochester employee, Morris said he resigned in May of 2019 and he has worked with Pathways-to-Peace and as a corrections officer.
“The stuff you see today is rhetoric. I’m standing out here because every day there’s blood being shed out on these streets.”
The mayor responded, “Today we were talking about actually hiring more credible messengers with our Pathway-to-Peace team to actually get out in our streets.”
“We need more resources,” Morris said. “We need more credible messengers outside of the ones they deem credible.”
Herriott-Sullivan said the goal is to give people options. “We’re not going to police our way out of social ills.”
“It’s going to take all of us to be apart of the solution to combat violence in our community that means we need more programs,” Lightfoot, who also leads the city’s ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition, said on Friday.
“Our R-Centers are a gem and a jewel that we have those in our community.”
Beginning this weekend, the Roxie Sinkle R-Center, 75 Grover St., will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight providing basketball, e-sports/gaming and other activities to prevent disputes among teens and young adults.
“If you need a way out, don’t hesitate to call the Pathways-to-Peace program. If we do, our city will be safer,” Warren said.