Updated: May 04, 2021 02:08 PM
Created: May 04, 2021 11:06 AM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and other city leaders plan to launch a new Office of Neighborhood Safety, which the mayor says will bring a "unified strategy" to reduce violence in the city.
In a news conference at the Father Tracey Advocacy Center Tuesday on North Clinton Avenue, leaders said the office would use strategies ranging from coordinating a "non-police response" to transformative mentoring, job readiness programs, peacekeeping fellowships, and trust-building, among other efforts.
The city specified the fellowship would identify people with a "high likelihood" of becoming gun violence victims and enroll them in a program that includes peer-to-peer mentorships and earning. Warren said it mirrors similar programs in Newark, New Jersey, and Richmond, California.
Warren mentioned other city programs like Pathways to Peace, ROC Against Gun Violence, and Youth Advocate Program's work but stressed the city needs to do more.
"We're losing our young people at an alarming rate, and we have to do everything we can to stop it," Warren said.
The office would be run through the city's Department of Recreation and Human Services. The department also oversees the city's Persons In Crisis (PIC) team.
Mayor Warren’s press release. pic.twitter.com/CmMuaUQsj4— Patrick Moussignac (@WHEC_Moussignac) May 4, 2021
The goal is to right now drop crime rates to 2019's level. Mayor Warren says, by putting the job of neighborhood safety, and violence reduction in the hands of the community.
"Even though we know that violence across the country has increased 30-percent, violence in our city is what we truly care about," Warren said.
Other speakers included City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot, Rise Up Rochester founder Wanda Ridgeway and Interim Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan. Herriott-Sullivan said the police department supports the plan.
Warren previously told News10NBC the City, Rochester Police, and their partners are doing everything they can to not only get illegal guns off the streets but also get in the middle of disputes before they turn violent.
Advocates at the center recently made a call to end the violence around the neighborhood after a man was shot and killed a few blocks from the center last month. In all, 21 people have been killed in Rochester in 2021 (a 22nd victim was counted from a 1991 shooting) and a majority have been from shootings.
Warren's office says it hopes to have the Office of Neighborhood Safety included on the city's 2021-22 budget, with a plan to hire a coordinator in May and convene at a Violence Reduction summit in August. The plan is a part of the mayor's Equity and Recovery Agenda (ERA), which was unveiled earlier this year.
City Councilmember Malik Evans, who is running against Warren in the Democratic primary for mayor released the following statement on the violence just before the news conference.
"The recent uptick in violent crime is one of the most pressing issues facing our city. Every life cut short by violence is a tragic loss and we need to do everything we can as a community and as individuals to make it stop.
In the past several months, 6 Rochester City School District students have died as a result of gun violence, 13 more have been injured, and 5 students have been seriously assaulted in their neighborhoods. We simply cannot allow this level of violence to become normal and accepted. It is imperative that we provide our youth with safe schools and neighborhoods to grow up in.
Families, community organizations, educators, and RPD need to work together to head off potentially violent conflicts. If you have specific knowledge that could avert a violent incident, please call 911.
Protecting our city from violent crime is one of the most basic functions of government. As Mayor, I will work with our state delegation to make sure that, while deserving people get a second chance, we do not expose residents to unnecessary violence from repeat offenders.
We also must invest in youth development. Kids need educational and recreational opportunities year-round. Summer programs and jobs provide outlets for youthful energy and paths to career success, while also directly benefiting the community. As mayor, I will invest in our youth and always work to give our kids a fighting chance.”
Also in response to the plan, executive director for Rochester's Police Accountability Board Conor Dwyer Renyolds tweeted the following response:
This was how PAB was supposed to be set up. Our first budget would provide "start-up costs" to let us figure out what we needed, while our next budget would fill those needs. If PAB gets a full funding budget in June, I'd expect this office to be fully funded, too. If not . . . https://t.co/YKmRp1B7iN— Conor Dwyer Reynolds (@DwyerReynolds) May 4, 2021
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