New initiative will help RPD focus on non-deadly shootings

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Police Department is launching a new initiative to spend more time investigating shootings in which the victim survived. Nearly 40 people have been shot this year in Rochester. Many of those shootings were non-fatal, and many of the cases are still unsolved.

The department said the pilot program is made possible through a state grant, through the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Capt. Brian Marone said the hope is to launch this pilot program before July 1, using money from the state’s GIVE program (Gun Involved Violence Elimination). This would allow for more time and resources to look at cases.

Other cities, like Utica and Schenectady have seen success with the program.

Marone and his patrol section team spend a lot of time working with victims, families and witnesses of gun violence. His team focuses on non-deadly shootings, while the Major Crimes Task Force focuses on deadly shootings.

Often times, it can be difficult to move cases forward.

“For us to do our job, we really could use cooperation from the public,” said Marone. “Sometimes we have a hard time with that, and I understand why, people are scared, there are numerous reasons you can think of.”

He’s hoping this new program will allow his team more time to work with victims, families and individuals who have been traumatized. It’s a team effort — which is why Monroe County District Attorney’s office is also involved, getting some of these state dollars.

“The DA’s office has hired two prosecutors and an investigator for it, so they are utilizing the funding from that for those positions, and those are specific to nonfatal shootings, working closely with the police department,” said Marone.

Marone said there aren’t any plans to hire anyone new for this program, but they will allocate deputies already on staff.

Lt. Michael Curley with Utica Police Department said his department went through the same program in 2016. Over time, they’re solvability rate went up by 40% percent.

“It allows us to allocate resources, training, time and equipment to nonfatal shootings in which we can have dedicated investigators solely for that type of thing,” said Curley.

He said it also gave his team more time to work on relationships, and building trust with the community.

“Part of the overall structure of both give and nonfatal shootings, is getting out in the community, building bridges, assuring the community they can trust the police,” said Curley. “That we have the best interest at heart, we’re adhering to procedural justice tenants.”

And if all runs smoothly here in Rochester, Marone said it could mean a few new positions someday.

“Hopefully to create additional spots for investigators, to just focus on nonfatal shootings,” he said. 

Marone said the department has been working to combat staffing shortages all around, so any help from this program will go a long way.

For the open data portal for shootings, click here.