ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After initially announcing that 12-hour shifts will be mandated for Rochester Police Officers to increase their presence around neighborhoods the city deems “in crisis,” the Chief will first ask officers to voluntarily work these extra shifts.  

Leaders with the Locust Club Union argue much of the department has already been working anywhere from 16-hour to even double shifts to keep up with crime waves over the summer. So, more overtime could be damaging to officers’ well-being. 

Since it was announced Wednesday night Rochester Police would need to start shifting to 12-hour shifts in an effort to increase patrols in certain parts of the city. A move the Locust Club claimed to have no heads up on.  

“Now all of a sudden they’re already scheduled for massive amounts of overtime and made the accommodations to do that,” Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo stated. “We had one call come in after another what are we supposed to do? We’ve already scheduled out for a week or two.” 

In his latest public announcement, Chief Smith explained they’ll first ask officers to voluntarily work extra hours.  

“We’ll be looking for officers to volunteer first as we always do to fill those slots,” Chief Smith explained. “And then we will have a rotational system in place if we have to mandate officers fill those other slots.” 

Still, the Chief acknowledged this comes as the department has not had a break since the surges in killings all summer.  

“These guys and gals are tired,” Chief Smith said. “They’ve gone all out all summer and now we’re asking them to go out with little relief in sight. They’re stepping up and doing the work, but it comes at a cost and these guys and gals are spending a lot of time away from their families.”  

President Mazzeo of the Locust Club argues current staffing situations aren’t at a point to cover every open spot with overtime without taking away resources from another area of the department. Giving officers less time to effectively engage their own areas.  

“Having our people have the ability to spend time with people in the neighborhoods to build relationships,” Mazzeo said. “Where people are comfortable to tell them information they may be reluctant to tell now. But right now our people do not have the time to engage or be out there when our staffing levels are that far down.” 

Those calls to reform community policing with boosts in staffing numbers date all the way back to 2010 according to documents from the Locust Club Union. 

There is a recruitment class in RPD’s academy for new officers to join the force. But they will not graduate until spring.