City Council to vote next week on putting police on school grounds

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UPDATE: Rochester City Council will vote on Tuesday, Jan. 24 about whether to put police back on campus. Last Thursday night, council members put in a motion to vote on the issue.

The vote is in response to the attempted shooting of a 16-year-old on the steps of Franklin High School on Jan. 5. The group Friends of Malcolm gathered outside of the school on Monday to say that answer lies in the community, not the police. The Rochester school board already voted 7-0 to have police presence back for arrival and dismissal.

More about Franklin High School incident:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Police may be back on school grounds in the coming months.

Thursday night, in a vote of 6 to 3, Rochester City Council moved the motion to vote on it next week.
It was not a quick decision. And things got a bit heated!

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Council members questioned the Rochester police on what they would do differently if officers were put back on campus. Rochester school board voted to have police presence back for arrival and dismissal.

Mayor Malik Evans stepped in and said the city is responding to that, but some council members immediately said no.

“I’m looking for a broader approach that’s proactive instead of reactive”, says Councilmember Mary Lupien.

Councilmember Stanley Martin says “I also would like to hear from students on what safety looks like before making the decision to support this”.

$84 is how much Rochester Police Chief David Smith says it would cost per hour, per officer on a school campus. Smith says he thought it would be difficult to fill the slots because it’s on a voluntarily basis but every slot was filled.

Smith says “Arrival times, could be possible to have midnight officers stay and pay them overtime for an hour but they would not be able to reimburse us on that. It would come out of my patrol overtime budget”.

Logistics on how officers would be staffed at schools was not what some city council members were focused on. Lupien, Martin, and Councilmember Kim Smith all voted no tonight. They all wanted to know what officer-to-student interactions would look like. During those conversations, things got a little heated.

Kim Smith: “Knowing the school-to-prison pipeline, how are you going to tailor your actions with students to make sure that everyone is safe, that you’re building relationships, that students are comfortable and do not fear the police?

Chief Smith: “So what you’re implying is that my officers make improper arrests based on race or ethnicity?

Kim Smith: “I am not implying anything. “

At one point Mayor Evans chimed in and reminded the group the Rochester School Board voted for officers and budgeted $370,000 for it. While the council’s opinions are “Admirable” – he feels it’s necessary to react.

Evans says “We’re providing it because someone almost got their head blown off, and we didn’t want to wait, we didn’t want to wait.”

Councilmember LaShay Harris states “I work at Franklin and I see the difference in the students when law enforcement is there talking to them, people walked up to the officers and said thank you.”

Chief Smith added that officers would be outside their cars, socializing with everyone on the grounds, especially students.

If the vote passes next week, officers will be stationed outside Franklin, Wilson, Edison Tech, Northeast, and East for the remainder of the school year.