Local lawmakers call on state leaders to enact a dangerousness standard

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Amid a jump in shootings in Rochester, some city lawmakers are imploring state leaders to make changes to how judges set bail.

City Councilmember Michael Patterson and four of his colleagues want judges to be able to set a Dangerousness Standard in hopes of keeping violent defendants behind bars.

Using this proposed dangerousness standard, judges would be able to withhold bail from people they think pose a risk to the community. This would only apply to people who have been charged with gun crimes, but not everyone is in favor.

“I think that we need to do this expeditiously,” said Councilmember Willie Lightfoot. “We need to jump on this as soon as possible.”

He is one of 5 city leaders to support Michael Patterson. He’s not alone as Councilwoman Lashay Harris added her support for a very important reason.

“Personally I’ve been affected by gun violence,” said Harris. “I’ve had family members die from gun violence, and the gun violence that I’ve done my research on occurred from people who illegally possess guns.”

In the past judges would set bail so high the defendant wasn’t getting out. Patterson says bail reform took away that discretion.

“I asked for this back in July,” said Patterson. “Unbeknownst to me, our past Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy wrote a letter supporting that, and they’ve done nothing, and people continue to be shot in Rochester. We need the Assembly and Senate and Governor to act.”

Not everyone is throwing their support behind the call to set a dangerousness standard. Councilmember Stanley Martin believes other solutions will work best to help reduce gun violence.

“We know that with this dangerousness standard that they’re calling for, it does not, it essentially doesn’t do what they want to do,” said Martin. “So I have concerns that this may just be another fear-mongering tactic versus actually presenting solutions that are supposed by data that would actually have an impact in our community.”

We hear all kinds of complaints about bail reform. So we decided to go see for ourselves. News10NBC is investigating who gets bail, who doesn’t, and who’s getting out of jail.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean is going to City Court and tracking each case. If you think everyone arrested just gets let go, watch our investigation coming up this month.