ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — Record-setting trends in homicides and other violent crimes in the City of Rochester have pushed the Major Crimes Unit investigator team to its limits to keep up.
The Rochester Police Department still has 46 open homicide cases dating back to the start of 2021, but only 12 investigators are in charge of overseeing all of them.
It’s now 11 investigators, because Gary Galetta, who sat down with us, is retiring. He explains even though gun violence and murders have reached new records in stats, staffing levels in their division have remained the same for years.
In the last couple of years, Detective Galetta and his colleagues in The Major Crimes Unit have realized keeping up with open cases while taking new ones coming in has kept them off most vacation time and away from their families longer than ever.
“I don’t think we’ve contributed more days, more nights, holidays more times away from family than we have in the last 2-3 years,” Investigator Galetta explained. “And they’re still doing it with a staff when we only had 30-35 murders.”
After setting a record with 81 homicides in 2021, on top of the murders, the city has seen so far in 2022, 46 of those cases remain unsolved. Galetta and his colleagues lately have been forced to work earlier mornings and late nights to bring people justice.
“They’ve increased and increased to the point where your days off are here,” Galetta continued. “Late nights you’re still here on a regular basis. It comes a point in time where you have to triage with cases you think have a faster solvability factor.”
After nearly 40 years on the job, Galetta is unsure how the department plans to fill his position as he steps down. Leaving the Major Crimes Unit with 11 investigators to oversee every open murder case in the city. But he has spoken with colleagues to offer advice to keep getting justice for the city.
“I know that it’s a struggle right now with staffing and resources and it’s never been lower,” Galetta said. “I honestly don’t know what the answer is but it’s going to be difficult.”
“He’s going to be missed because he carries a lot of weight around here,” Investigator Michael Houlihan added. “And does a lot of things so we’re just going to keep plugging away and moving forward.”
In the upcoming city budget, RPD has asked for approval to fund two new positions with the Major Crimes Unit to catch up on unsolved cases. They’re awaiting approval to move forward on that.