ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In a letter addressed to Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday, Rochester councilmembers called for the enacting of a “Dangerousness Standard.”

This proposal requests that the governor introduces legislation with a focus on stricter judicial discretion when deciding to keep individuals facing gun charges in jail.

In its current climate, state law requires judges to focus solely on the conditions that will ensure that the person charged returns to court. Councilmembers argue that a “Dangerousness Standard” will give judges a clearer lens to decide whether the individual’s “dangerousness” poses danger to the community, and thus, keep residents protected from gun violence.

Under the proposal, if a judge determined that an individual with gun charges were dangerous,
they would be remanded without bail. If determined to not be dangerous, then normal bail considerations would apply, according to the letter submitted by council members.

“Holding our Judges to the current standard leaves no discretion for judges to protect our citizens from those who choose to violate gun laws in New York State and who instead choose to possess and use guns illegally in our community. It also leaves our criminal justice system out of balance, where law enforcement arrests them; the courts release them (with or without bail); the individual goes out and commits another gun crime in the community; and they are arrested again.”

“We are not asking you to change or modify Bail Reform but rather to allow for a new lens to be used for gun crimes.”

— Rochester Councilmember Michael Patterson

The letter also referenced the increase in city homicides over the last five years and compared it to the percentage caused by firearms, both of which have risen in that time frame.

According to data from the Rochester Police Department Open Data Portal, homicides are up by 200% from 2017-2019 to 2020-2022.

Data as of Monday, October 24, 2022

Former Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy originally requested for a special session to call for the enactment of a “Dangerousness Standard” on July 25.

New York’s bail reform law was enacted in 2019, eliminating pretrial incarceration for individuals accused of most nonviolent offenses. Ever since then, and following the fatal shooting of RPD officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, Republicans and politicians have called for a legislative session to repeal state bail reform laws. The topic has also been debated among the state’s gubernatorial competitors ahead of the 2022 Election.

Complete letter

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