City officials speak about fixing disinvestments in North Clinton Ave. to prevent violence

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Mayor Malik Evans and other officials spoke on Friday about how city departments are collaborating to reduce gun violence on North Clinton Avenue.

Evans said that the Rochester Police Department is working to get illegal guns off the street and to shut down illegal gatherings that could lead to violence. In addition, the city is improving recreational activities, job opportunities, and housing in the 14605 zip code of North Clinton — an area that has suffered from historic disinvestment.

Evans said his administration meets regularly to discuss ongoing violence prevention efforts behind closed doors. He said Friday’s conference at City Hall was to help the public understand the steps to make communities safer. The last update that the mayor and other city officials delivered was on September 23.

New York State’s top 25 poorest zip codes include 8 from the city of Rochester alone. The 14605 zip code is number two in the state. Evans said the city needs to make major investments in the area to reduce violent crime.

The conference comes after a 3-year-old boy was shot on North Clinton in a parked car after he was caught in the crossfire of a shootout. A 34-year-old and a 16-year-old were arrested for that shooting on Wednesday.

RPD Chief David Smith said there have been 8 murders on North Clinton Avenue this year. He said most of the people arrested in the area are from other parts of the county. People from the suburbs have been arrested for coming to North Clinton to buy drugs.

North Clinton is a special focus on the Gun Violence State of Emergency, which the mayor declared on July 21 to give him extra authority to prevent shootings. That includes increasing police patrol in certain areas and shutting down streets.

Since Wednesday’s shooting, RPD officers have been working 12-hour shifts instead of 8 on North Clinton. Chief Smith said at the conference that the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has provided deputies to help increase the patrol of the area.

Smith said ending violence has three steps prevention, intervention, and suppression. Arresting people who use illegal guns is one step in suppressing violence. On September 23, Smith said that 57 illegal guns were taken off the streets within the past two weeks and 591 illegal guns were taken this year.

The police department is also bringing in U.S. Marshalls and state police to help them arrest known violent offenders, part of a program called the ROC Initiative.

Evans said 90% of violent crimes are committed on just 10% of our streets. His crime prevention efforts are to zero in on these neighborhoods that are being held hostage by violent offenders.

Evans said preventing violence must go beyond police work and must involve work from the city’s departments of law, recreation, housing, and parks.

Victor Saunders, Special Advisor of Violence Prevention, said the city’s and community groups are working to help people solve their problems without using guns.

“We are currently reconnecting people to jobs, helping folks find purpose, and meaning through helping others,” Saunders said. “We have a high number of previously incarcerated individuals in that zip code understanding that we are definitely through our reentry coordinator engaging in pre, and post-release strategies for life changes.”

Dana Miller, Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development, said investment in affordable housing can help to transform a community.

Miller said his department worked with IBERO on the project Pueblo Nuevo to create a total of 104 affordable homes on North Clinton during both phases of the project.

In addition. Miller also protecting housing from code is also an important step. The city has trained staff to recognize code violations and to get landlords to address them.

Dr. Shirley Green of the Department of Recreation on Human Services said that Rec Centers and The International Plaza on North Clinton can provide a safe space for the community members. She said the David F. Gantt Recreation Center has extended hours, along with programs for youth and adults.