Despite having less than a month left in office, Rochester mayor Lovely Warren declared a state of emergency to combat rising gun violence.
In 2019 there were 32 homicides in the city of Rochester. That number jumped to 52 in 2020. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the recent killings brought the annual homicide count to 74, making it the deadliest year the city has had since 1993 when 70 people were killed. As of this year, Rochester averages 20 homicides for every 100,000 people, giving the city a higher per capita rate of violence than Chicago.
Lifelong Rochester native and Monroe Community College student, Jayquan Roberts, is devastated by what he sees happening in his hometown.
“Rochester has always been dangerous, but now it’s worse than ever before,” Roberts said. “It almost makes you scared to even go outside, every time you turn the news on you hear about someone else getting shot. It’s crazy.”
In criminal justice, a clearance rate is often used to measure crimes solved by the police. It is calculated by dividing the number of crimes where someone is charged by the number of crimes committed. In 2021, Police Chief David Smith said his department has a 44.6% clearance rate on crimes, down from previous years. Chief Smith says that the drop is due to the increased caseload that Rochester police are handling in 2021. Mayor Warren’s emergency declaration allows Rochester to petition state officials for more state troopers and resources to help stop the violence.
Additionally, Warren authorized an emergency order that allows Chief Smith to direct the closure of any commercial building where there has been a shooting in the last 30 days. In a news release on Nov. 18, Warren addressed the state of emergency.
“Protecting our residents and the safety of our neighborhoods remains my top priority. This order empowers Chief David M. Smith to close any business where there has been a shooting and it’s operating in a manner that has consistently violated our local laws,” Warren said. “I don’t take this action lightly. However, Chief Smith has asked for this ability to ensure that he and our police officers can do all they can to keep our city safe. My hope is that this action, along with our continued combined efforts to take violent criminals off our streets will strengthen Rochester’s safety.”
The state of emergency will be in effect through Dec. 12. All state of emergencies must be renewed after 30 days.