Words not guns: Rochester’s mayor pitches ‘Operation Talk it Out’ as way to prevent violence

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester’s mayor wants to get feuding parties to resolve their differences before turning to bloodshed.

Saying personal feuds are driving much of the city’s violence, Mayor Malik Evans announced a new initiative Thursday called “Operation Talk it Out.”

Dr. Shirley Green of the Department of Recreation and Human Services will oversee the program, in which local leaders, including faith leaders, will try to help people solve their problems using words. It will be run through the city’s recreation centers.

Thursday’s announcement of ‘Operation Talk it Out’ came two days after a 16-year-old allegedly shot and killed a 17-year-old on a Weld Street porch. Rochester Police say it was not a random act.

Evans has held press conferences throughout his first year in office to discuss efforts in specific neighborhoods. Thursday’s was on the 14611 zip code, which is one of the poorest in the state. September’s press conference was on investing resources in the North Clinton Avenue area.

Evans said that within the 14611 zip code, police have zoned in on two areas experiencing frequent crime: Chili Avenue and Thurston Road and the Jefferson Avenue and Iceland Park.

Rochester Police will also be conducting more foot patrols in an effort to build community relations and trust, Evans said.

Meanwhile, the city’s gun violence state of emergency, which gives Evans “powers to protect life and property and to bring the emergency under control” is still in effect.

Sixty-nine people have been killed in Rochester in 2022, and there have been more than 300 shootings.