Chief Says Police Are Closing in On Gangs; Council Member Wants Answers
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Heat in the streets set the backdrop for a violent Rochester weekend. Separate shootings on Wilkins Street and North Clinton Avenue left one dead and two in the hospital.
"I get calls all the time regarding those activities and it's disturbing,” said Jacklyn Ortiz, City Council.
The weekend violence is an example of why Ortiz likens Rochester streets in recent months to "a war zone."
"I would say so. If you look at the headlines and the things that have been happening lately, I don't know what else you could describe it as,” she said.
A City Council hearing Tuesday morning dealt with the proposed Rochester Police Department budget. Ortiz used the forum to question whether current police policies to prevent violence are working.
"What are we going to do to combat open air drug sales? Gang activity? The homicide rate? I hear what you're saying, but it doesn't seem to be making a significant difference,” she said.
Chief James Sheppard of the Rochester Police Department says overall, crime has dropped. The weekend killing was the 15th in Rochester this year.
"I understand your concerns in terms of violence and our need to address it. I do believe we do have strategies in place to address these issues, but I also believe that we have to use the data, and not necessarily get caught up in the perception versus the reality,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard told members of City Council that the Rochester Police Department is close to shutting down a number of gangs in the city; impending arrests which he believes will reduce the number of homicides and cut the amount of violence.
Sheppard said he'd be open to prevention measures. Council member Elaine Spaull suggested a gun amnesty program, but Sheppard says the reality is many young people carry guns out of fear, believing they have to pack because everyone else is.
"We have a problem,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz says she's not sure what the solution is, but to her, the carnage is not acceptable.
"At the end of the day, the numbers are high."