The number of crime incidents reported in the city of Rochester rose in 2022, but overall, both violent and property crime rates remain lower than a decade ago.
Compared with 2021, there were over 1,000 more police incidents, data from the Rochester Police Department’s open portal show. Incidents the FBI classifies as property crimes, which includes cases of larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft, spiked and were higher than in any year since 2014.
By contrast, violent crime incidents—defined by the FBI to include aggravated assault, robbery, and murder—in 2022 were 8 percent lower than 2021. But the 74 total homicide incidents last year were near a decade high, trailing only 76 in 2021.
While the number of non-fatal shooting victims fell in 2022, 63 of the 74 homicide incidents were caused by a firearm, a new decade high. Although the city has attempted to stem this tide of gun violence, the numbers suggest more time and effort is needed to make an impact.
“It’s the most I’ve ever seen, almost two a day,” RPD Chief David Smith said about the number of police-confiscated firearms at a forum in June 2022.
“Addressing gun violence is a top priority of my administration, and I want to tackle this issue on every front,” Mayor Malik Evans said in December when the city announced a lawsuit against gun manufacturers.
Of the 63 firearm homicide victims, 71 percent were Black males. Age was similarly skewed toward one category—60 percent of victims were in the age bracket of 25 to 44 years old.
The youngest victim was 12-year-old Juan Lopez, a seventh grade student at Benjamin Franklin Education Campus, who was killed in an incident in the southwest of the city that also injured a 16-year-old male. The oldest was 54-year-old Adolfo Hernandez, a city resident, who was killed by gunfire on North Clinton Avenue.
The Clinton patrol section was a particular hotspot for homicides in 2022. Car patrol beat 217, which covers an area bounded by the Genesee River, Norton Street, Joseph Avenue, and Avenue D, had a middling amount of violent incidents at 37. However, that area also saw the highest number of murder incidents with eight total.
Also with a high number of violent incidents was the Lake patrol section, which covers the northwest of the city. It had the highest number of robberies, as well as burglaries, and motor car thefts, compared with all other sections.
The Goodman patrol section, which covers the east and southeast area of Rochester, had the most recorded police incidents in 2022 with a total of more than 2,200. However, this was mainly driven by the high number of larceny reports.
Across all categories in 2022, the Central patrol section, which also has the lowest number of residents, had the lowest number of crime incidents. However, car patrol beat 219, which covers the midtown and east end sections of the city, had the fourth-highest level of property crime with 435 reports.
Clearance rates, when law enforcement considers a case solved, were at 13 percent in 2022. Rates specifically on violent crimes were considerably better than that, with 40 percent cleared by arrest. Cases can remain in the field or take longer to solve, so this number could see retroactive improvement later on.
Even so, that rate is below the most recently available FBI data on clearance rates nationwide. In 2019, cities with populations from 100,000 to 249,999 had a clearance rate of 43 percent for violent crimes, while the northeast region had a clearance rate of 54 percent. Rochester had an arrest clearance rate of 47 percent in 2019, making it above the average for cities of a similar size but below for the northeast region.
So far, in 2023, as of the time of writing, there have been 26 incidents. Five were in the violent crimes category.
Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.
These stats would be more encouraging if one major case was closed.
It is quite surprising to me that no arrests have been announced for the quintuple shooting that happened on Illinois Street in December. Multiple shooters. To me, it should be easy to determine who the shooters were with 30 people at the home. And they were filming.
The only conclusion that can be reached is there’s not enough manpower and time.
The challenge for policymakers is that for most citizens, perception is reality. The tried and true media driver, “if it bleeds, it leads,” drives perception. Nonetheless, I don’t know if there is an acceptable baseline for an acceptable number of homicides for a city the size of Rochester with similar demographics. Some in the law enforcement community point to bail and prison reform as a driver, yet advocates for those initiatives say there is no reliable data to support those conclusions. Unfortunately, much of the reform legislation was driven by conditions at Rykers Island in NYC and the strong progressive drive downstate that didn’t consider the conditions outside the seven or eight downstate counties. It’s laudable that Mayor Evans is making violent crime a priority. Still, I doubt whatever measures he and the administration put in place will do much to change the behavior of violent offenders. The current trend is similar to a wildfire that has to burn itself out. We need to give judges more description in sentencing and ensure that the most violent offenders spend twenty or more years in prison. Despite what progressive lawmakers believe, some individuals are so damaged they should never be allowed back into society. I admit I don’t have any idea how we deal with ever younger violent offenders. The news about a six-year-old in Virginia shooting his teacher is a phenomenon that the entire country needs to understand and respond to. I hope as 2023 progresses and society returns to pre-covid conditions; violence will subside.