Mayor Lovely Warren has declared a state of emergency in the city of Rochester with a goal to remove violent offenders from neighborhoods.
In a joint statement Friday with City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot, who chairs the public safety, recreation and human services committee, Warren said the Rochester Police Department has been working with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to expand efforts to target individuals who are committing violence.
“We have also been working with the city law department to determine what emergency powers we can exercise,” the statement reads.
The offenders have already committed crimes, are wanted for additional crimes and are most likely to be perpetrating the current spate of violence, officials said. Gov. Kathy Hochul has agreed to deploy additional state troopers to Rochester to actively expand this effort, building on work led by the U.S. Marshals, RPD and the Monroe County sheriff that began in the summer. State and county partners will also provide resources for mental health and violence disruption services.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the county has provided up to 700 hours a week of sheriff’s patrols in the city, mental health and addiction services and increased violence prevention training for juveniles and victim support services, since the COVID-19 outbreak and the uptick in violence.
“Families deserve better. Far too many are grieving the loss of a loved one from this senseless violence, while others are losing their loved ones to the legal system or to retaliation. This has to stop,” Bello said in a statement. “Numerous entities and community groups have been working tirelessly and providing resources in an effort to make an impact on this increase in violence. But for these efforts to be successful, they must be part of a larger effort – a citywide plan with clear objectives and increased resources for enforcement.”
Mayor-elect Malik Evans, who issued a statement yesterday, stressed that the community cannot let violence become normal.
“We are in a state of emergency, and we must have a ‘whole community’ approach to solve this issue,” Evans said. “As part of my transition, we will be pulling together all who are willing to help tackle the scourge of violence in our community. The government cannot and will not solve this problem alone.”
Rochester is experiencing its deadliest year of violence—marking 71 homicides so far. This week alone, two people were killed on Chestnut Street and one was killed outside the downtown transit center. Many of these victims were under the age of 18.
“We must actively attack this crisis from all angles,” the statement by Warren and Lightfoot said. “We also need our residents to step up and protect their neighborhoods as well. If you see something, say something, call 911 and report it. None of us can tolerate what is happening. The costs are, and have been, too great.”
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.