City leaders in Rochester, N.Y. are stepping up and taking a new approach to gun crime and violence, which has skyrocketed over the past year and has become far too frequent, according to a report on Friday.
In a press conference, Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said that with gun violence having an overwhelmingly negative impact on the city, the department will be moving towards new enforcement policies designed to get criminals who use guns off the streets and behind bars for as long as possible.
And to accomplish this, Rochester police will be working with other law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Marshals Service to make arrests and get violent gun offenders out of communities and neighborhoods and business districts, WHEC reported.
Herriott-Sullivan said everyone from the police department to local government officials, faith leaders, and citizens have said “enough is enough” following the steep rise in shootings.
The city has been experiencing shootings on a daily basis, the chief said, adding that her department has developed a new strategy that she hopes with substantially reduce them: Targeting gun violence offenders by also charging them with federal offenses.
“The goal for me is simple, that when people are arrested for these violent gun-type incidents, I want them to stay in jail,” Herriott-Sullivan told reporters on Friday. “It’s that simple.”
City officers will be working with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies to “specifically target known violent criminals in the city’s most troubled neighborhoods,” WHEC reported, adding that other law enforcement agencies have signed on to the initiative as well and will be providing additional assistance.
“The New York State Police, they’re overwhelmingly stepped up to offer resource. The U.S. Marshals are also going to be working with us,” said Harriot-Sullivan, who added that the Rochester City Council and Mayor Lovely Warren have all signaled their support for her initiative.
Council President Loretta Scott went further. She indicated she is willing to support Harriott-Sullivan in receiving assistance from anyone and anywhere that’s appropriate, including more federal resources and also from the city’s own residents.
“I want the state, the nation, and the president, and everybody else,” Scott said, according to WHEC. “I want all the help that we can get, but I definitely want the citizens of Rochester to step up.”
Calls from Democrat-controlled Rochester for more police and federal law enforcement differ widely from a push to defund police from leftist officials in other cities like Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
That said, New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams, a retired NYPD captain, ran and won on a platform of enforcing laws — especially gun laws — amid massive spikes in violent crime and shootings.
City Councilman Malik Evans, the winner of the Democratic mayoral primary in the city, ran on a number of policies including bringing in more jobs, expanding economic opportunities, and keeping out illegal guns to reduce crime.
“The one message I will say to folks is that the police alone will not solve these problems,” Evans said. “The police alone, there’s just not enough police officers, and they don’t have the intelligence of where these guns are coming from, by themselves, so they have to have partners.”
Not everyone in the city responded positively to a call for more federal assistance, including Harriott-Sullivan’s request for FBI agents.
“We are devastated by the ongoing incidents of gun violence in our community. Predictably, the neighborhoods we see most affected by intercommunal violence are those that have suffered historical disinvestment, resulting in concentrated poverty and a crushing lack of access to resources,” said a group known as Free the People ROC.
“Our communities need help and support, not the FBI. The FBI is an organization who has historically destroyed Black and brown communities and dismantled Black organizations working to protect our community,” the group added in a statement.
“Through the work of violence prevention organizations like Advance Peace, we know that when people at risk of being involved in gun violence are provided with mentoring, opportunities to earn livable wages, heal trauma and learn alternatives to violence, the trajectory of their lives drastically change,” the statement continues.