Rochester officials address uptick in violence in schools, community

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A panel of about a dozen city leaders Monday took time to address violence in Rochester and listen to what the community thinks the next steps are in ending it.

Some of those questions were: How are guns getting into the city? What is being done about violence inside schools? Interim Rochester Police Department Chief David Smith had a mic in hand ready to give as many answers as he could.

City Council members, RPD, business owners, and other community activists took questions at The Mercantile on East Main Street from anyone who had one. The event was organized by SAVE ROCHESTER Black Lives Matter.

Rochester is close to almost 70 homicides this year.

When people asked about where the guns are coming from, Smith said a lot of them are from other states. People also asked what is being done to positively engage with youth and crackdown on the recent uptick in violence inside schools.

Just Friday, five teachers were assaulted at Franklin High School.

Smith said when officers were inside schools it was to connect with kids, not to strictly enforce the law.

"These kids at school are spitting on them? People need to talk about this, it’s assault, they don’t teach them about assault when they’re knee high," Smith said. "Having anyone from the community in our schools in that role is a good idea, whether you’re for the School Resource Officer program or not, those officers were not there strictly for law enforcement, they had lunch with the kids, they did council and had relationships with the kids, and the relationship was because it was someone other than a teacher"

Anyone who couldn’t make the event is encouraged to contact city leaders with any questions or solutions they want to bring to the table.

Monday afternoon a group of men, part of the Community Safety Task Force Coalition, was outside of Franklin High School for dismissal to provide extra safety to the kids and the school itself.

The call was placed for about 20 of them to show up to the school due to the violence that’s been taking place on school grounds across the district.

Members said they want to curb the violence and are asking the district to look through the lenses of the students and see what they need and want.

They said they also want the district to allow them to form a working group for staff who are fearful.

The group’s leader, Anthony Hall, said they want to be part of the process of making key decisions on issues in the school district.

"It’s important that our students are able to come to and from school and feel good and feel safe in this space,” Hall said. “We’re also here to convey a message to the district that community folks want to be a part of the planning process as we talk about safety."

Hall and other leaders there said they plan to be out there every day this week and hope to have a meeting with Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small in the next few days.