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Police express frustration with parolee, probationer arrests

Andrew Hyman
Created: July 10, 2020 11:45 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A recent rash of violence across our area is frustrating both police, and community members, but, both groups point to different causes.

Rochester saw a violent run over the last week, with several shootings which left two people dead, and more than a dozen shot.

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"This is going to continue, it's going to get worse," Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan said.

Phelan said this on Friday morning while on a statewide call with New York State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay and other law enforcement professionals. Barclay said statewide, violence is increasing, and our NBC affiliate in New York City is reporting a continued spike in shootings.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

Locally, before the violent week began, the Rochester Police Major Crimes Unit tweeted out stats that broke down the number of murder victims and arrestees who were on either on parole or probation. After an inquiry this week from News10NBC, RPD shared some updated numbers:

  • Of the last 53 victims, five were on Parole and three were on Probation.
  • In the 31 Cases in which arrests were made, five suspects were on Parole and two were on Probation.
  • In the 22 open cases in which arrests have not been made, six prime suspects are on parole and two are on probation.

These numbers are from January 2019 to July 2020.

You can view full data from the City of Rochester up through May 2020 on this reference page, just go to page 71 to start.

On a Monroe County level, the stats given to News10NBC are based on both misdemeanor and felony arrests from March 2020, to July 2020.

Of the 3756 arrests in that category:

  • Probationer arrests – 358
  • Parolee Arrests – 109 
  • Unique Persons Issued an Appearance Ticket and Re-re-arrested – 239  

SO, WHAT’S THE DEAL?

While Rochester police search for suspects in the recent shootings, officers are blaming the state's bail reform laws, which started this year. Rollbacks to reforms kicked in on July 2 despite calls from criminal justice reform advocates to roll them back.

While speaking to reporters at the scene of the Clifford Avenue homicide on Tuesday, RPD Capt. Frank Umbrino weighed in on the topic

"It's really frustrating when you arrest the bad guys, and they get let right back out," Umbrino said.

As far as the county goes, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley called the numbers "concerning," but believes it’s not just bail reform which is contributing to the numbers.

Doorley says the coronavirus pandemic has played a role, too, as it forced the shutdown of the court system. While courts began reopening as part of Phase Two, grand juries lagged behind, Doorley says those are scheduled to come back on Monday, June 13. With the system shut down, Doorley said people are not receiving speedy trials, and they're out on the street longer.

"The police in our community are really taking to heart their responsibility and they are making sure they are arresting where arrests are due where people are violating the law," Doorley said.

But, reform advocates argue, the numbers do not tell the whole story.

We spoke to members of Free the People Roc during its news conference Thursday.

They told us the bigger issue is systemic violence, which they say. Is caused by a lack of resources needed to address poverty and other issues in black and brown communities. The organization is continuing its push for more police accountability, and for funds to be taken away from departments, and given back to the community.

“We know that people get shot regardless if they’re on parole or probation, period,” Ashley Gantt said. “I don’t even know what that is a factor”

"For someone to be on parole or probation, I’m glad they're out in the community and trying, but by no means is it a way to deter away from keeping people out of jail, into the streets to try to restore themselves and step back into the community as community members," Iman Abid said.

Thursday night, at community discussion on police reforms, advocates had their chance to go to the table with police, Gantt was among the many panelists.

During the discussion, RPD Chief La’Ron Singletary said while he has a strong accountability record since taking over the positon, changes need to be made, as he mentioned adding more diversity to the force, and making other adjustments within the department.

News10NBC reached out to RPD for added comment but had not heard back at the time this story was published.

Back with Chief Phelan, he and other law enforcement leaders blasted what they call an ‘anti-police’ rhetoric, but says he and other agencies are open to make changes, too. 

"If we were able to work together, I think we could come to an understanding where everybody at least felt comfortable that we were doing the right thing," Phelan said.


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