Rochester activists and police agree, the root cause of violence starts in the home

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Recent shootings and homicides in the city are sparking conversations, and workshops on how to de-escalate.

A community-led workshop this Thursday addressed how to reach youth, how to set them up for success and de-escalate tensions.

Around 1 p.m., officers responded to a murder investigation just around the corner from the workshop. The shooting occurring just outside the Regional Transit Service center in downtown Rochester.

It’s exactly the kind of behavior community activists are calling for an end to.

“When we came out of pandemic, we saw more young people hurt, more traumatized, more damaged than they’ve been,” said Doug Ackley, of Teen Empowerment.

Part of the discussion today, involved how to be a father or mother figure for those without one.

“Lack of fathers in the household. The family structure is very important,” said Randy Rudolph, RCSD teacher.

The same topic was touched on 24 hours prior, by Rochester Police Captain Frank Umbrino. He says we have to pinpoint where a child learns certain type of behavior is acceptable.

James Vanbrederode, Chief of Police Chiefs in Monroe County says he’s all for long-term solutions, but his priority is also just getting through a day without loss of life.

“How are we going to get through the next 48 hours to make sure there’s not a murder? How are we going to get through the next 72 hours?” he said.

Data from Rochester Police shows homicide numbers are up, but larcenies and burglaries are down. Vanbrederode believes less people report nonviolent crimes these days, because there are simply less consequences. He and other members of law enforcement have been criticizing bail reform for months – especially when it relates to known violent offenders out on the street.

“We get the mindset of not incarcerating people, but you got to give the criminal justice system resources, alternatives to incarceration, the halfway houses, boarding homes for kids,” said Vanbrederode. “They’re still out there but all empty, drug court is pretty much a new point right now nobody is choosing drug court because they don’t have to, ‘I’m not going to be put in jail,'” he said.

Activists like Rudolph say a solution to violence doesn’t involve the criminal justice system. “Criminal justice system to me really doesn’t work. I believe it first starts off with their relationship with God…We got to first reach them before we can teach them,” said Rudolph.

He says in the past year there’s been tension everywhere. Not just among teens, but among policy makers and police officers, Democrats and Republicans. Working to find a solution, he says, will have to involve a community, and a society, coming together somehow.

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