Local police departments, city officials react to governor’s plan to combat gun violence

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Local police departments and city officials are weighing in after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the first-in-the-nation executive order Tuesday, declaring a disaster emergency over gun violence.

The governor said it’s the first step in a seven-point plan that aims to combat the surge in gun violence across the state, which has now reached the status of an epidemic.

News10NBC spoke with various law enforcement agencies who say they agree with Cuomo’s idea to fight this issue like they did and are doing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but some city leaders say one size doesn’t fit all.

"That is where the COVID structure did work," Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode said. "We had daily phone calls from our county executives. We had a whole command structure in place."

"I think the idea of using a multifaceted approach is a good idea because there are a lot of issues that go into a violence problem,” Patrick Phelan, the executive director for the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said.

We all want the same outcome, but opinions differ on the approach. Jose Peo, who serves on Rochester City Council, says he doesn’t think the COVID-10 structure will work for specific reasons.

"I don’t want this to be handled like we handled COVID, to be honest," Peo said. "The governor had a lot of power, and from a NYC perspective, Rochester is different being a smaller city.”

Everyone News10NBC reporter Stephanie Duprey spoke with agreed that within Monroe County, it’s the teen programs and other initiatives, including the police departments that need state funding.

"We had to close down our city for the past year with no tax funds," Peo said. "We aren’t getting funds we would normally get, so when these non-profits want to help and interject with gang violence, and we don’t have funding for that."

The question now, is how will this work? VanBrederode commented on how crucial getting immediate structure is, with the number of homicides in Rochester this year rising to 38.

"We have to have more people out on the streets with us and not just the police, and who is going to coordinate that?" VanBrederode said. "That is what we need to know, and we have to do this in the next 72 hours, or we are going to end up with 40 at the end of the week if we don’t get this under control."

Phelan also added that people within any community should never have to question their safety.

"That’s all the public wants, they just want to be safe, they want their kids to be able to walk to the corner store without worrying about stray bullets," Phelan said. "People just want to be safe, and they’re going to start demanding it soon.”