Created: May 13, 2022 05:58 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State has directed police agencies to re-imagine their departments in an effort to create better relationships with the communities they serve. In an effort to do that, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has hired a lifelong Rochester resident, minister and professor to lead a new community affairs team.
Dr. Torrance Jones was born and raised in Rochester. He’s a pastor and for many years has been the chaplain at the Monroe County Jail. In that role, he says he’s learned a lot about how the men and women behind bars got there and what they need in order to avoid coming back.
It’s partially that experience, that led Sheriff Todd Baxter to hire him in a newly created role within the department as the Community Affairs Executive.
“One of the things I'm very excited about is the jail potion that this role helps to contribute to and really when I think about the reintegration of justice-involved individuals into society, that is just something that excites me about doing this position,” Dr. Jones told News10NBC.
Dr. Jones hopes to use his spiritual and business contacts to connect those behind bars with the services they need, particularly jobs, before they get out.
“What I hear a lot is, 'Well, I didn't know that this resource existed, I didn't know that I could go here,' so that's why it's important to build those relationships with community members and say okay, well can we try and begin that conversation while they're here that way when they do leave, it's not well, 'I didn't know that I could get this from here'— that's an essential component,” he said.
But Dr. Jones won’t just be working with people behind bars, he’ll be walking the streets with the Sheriff, attending neighborhood meetings, and talking with others who are trying to help those in need before they end up in the criminal justice system.
“You sort of see a lot of different, separate initiatives that are happening in silos so… it's all about how do I continuously engage those conversations and begin to say, how can we all work together,” he said.
While a lot of work will be done in the City of Rochester, those who live in the surrounding towns and villages should expect to see Dr. Jones too.
“To hear the voices, be within those meetings and those rooms and I do help to come back and inform the sheriff on, "we'll, this is what the community is saying" and when I think about community, I don't just think about one segment you have a 750,000 person residency within the community, so there's a lot of work,” he told News10NBC.
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