ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Police Department Chief David Smith announced a new program to combat firearm violence in the city during a press conference Monday afternoon.

The Rescue Our City (ROC) initiative, launched on June 15 by RPD, is a multi-jurisdictional task force.

“[The] dramatic rise in violence experienced in 2021 has unfortunately continued in 2022,” Smith said. “Although the number of shooting victims has decreased, the number of murders continues at a record level.”

Rochester is on track to have its deadliest year in decades, with 59 homicides thus far, according to the RPD Open Data Portal. 49 of those homicides list firearms as the cause of death.

The ROC initiative is comprised of RPD officers, NY State Police, members from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force, and the Monroe Crime Analysis Center.

The force exists to create a multi-pronged approach to target crime, especially repeat offenders. Following its success, several federal partners joined the initiative, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives.

The initiative has arrested 34 individuals since its inception, Smith said. The task force will be staffed full-time by one sergeant, four officers, and one investigator. Additionally, three sergeants and nine officers will be used temporarily, Smith said.

On July 21, Rochester mayor Malik Evans issued a “Proclamation of a Local State of Emergency” due to the gun violence in Rochester. It was extended on August 18 and is scheduled to be renewed on September 17.

The emergency order allows Mayor Evans to control the presence of people on public streets and he has the power to shut down particular roadways.

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