A new collaborative, multiyear effort aims to combat the escalation of violence and homicides in Rochester.
Monroe County hopes to provide $8.5 million for 11 additional sheriff’s deputies to address criminal activity in the county and support and back up the Rochester Police Department.
“Record violence and homicides are terrorizing innocent citizens who live in fear of gunfire and stray bullets. This is a crisis, and like the mayor, sheriff and (Rochester police) chief, I am outraged,” says Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “This violence needs the response of the entire community of Monroe.”
The additional deputies would target gun trafficking and gun violence, increase support for investigations and patrols, and trace illegal gun networks, he adds.
“This is a common-sense plan that includes multidisciplinary violence prevention teams to intervene in the cycle of violence,” Bello says.
The new deputies will also help keep the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office zones fully staffed. Under the five-year plan, the sheriff’s office will work in coordination with Rochester Police Department’s Patrol Section Investigations and Major Crimes Unit to support the city of Rochester on violent felony investigations and continue omnipresence patrols, officials say.
The additional patrol positions double the size of the MCSO Tactical Unit, improving resources for primary policing areas and offering consistent staffing.
“The city of Rochester is the heart of Monroe County, and it needs help,” says Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter. “There were 81 murders in the city last year and more than 350 shootings, with each shooting potentially being just inches away from becoming another murder.”
While deputies cover primary patrol responsibilities and assist the RPD, Baxter says the pace cannot continue without proper resources and support.
“Prevention—prevention, enforcement, recovery,” he says. “We cannot over-emphasize the importance of prevention and we fully support the mayor’s efforts, specifically the work Victor Saunders is doing in the heart of the city. Finally, on recovery, in the Monroe County Jail, we have proven intervention and comprehensive programs, which are paramount to successful corrections.”
Capabilities for digital forensic investigations and their partnership with the ATF to address violence are expected to increase. Multidisciplinary teams—connecting law enforcement, clergy and social workers to provide critical assistance for families directly impacted by violence—are part of the plan, which also provides support for jail services. Direct engagement with violent individuals to reduce repeat offenses and preparing the incarcerated for a successful re-entry as productive members of society are aimed at breaking the cycle of violence.
Rochester Mayor Malik Evans stressed that public safety is a top priority for his administration. Success, he says, will require deliberate investments in prevention, suppression and intervention.
“This collaboration is a key part of our strategy, and my upcoming budget proposal will include millions in dedicated funding for expanded investments in violence prevention programs,” says Evans, who is slated to present his budget plan Friday morning.
The plan hinges on approval from the Monroe County Legislature. Funds for immediate MSCO support will come from Monroe County fund balance.