The recurrent violence involving young people at the Liberty Pole and other areas downtown is unacceptable and a solution must be found, says Rochester Mayor Tom Richards in a strongly worded statement released this afternoon. The most recent incident took place on Monday, in which a shot was fired. A suspect was pursued, but not apprehended. No one was injured.
Large groups of youth often congregate in the area of the Liberty Pole before or after riding city buses. The city school district uses RTS buses to transport students.
In his statement, Richards says that he met with Police Chief James Sheppard, Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, and RGRTA CEO Bill Carpenter after Monday's incident.
"I believe that I made it clear — and all agreed — that the current transportation agreement is unacceptable and cannot continue," Richards' statement says. "It is not safe for the children, and disruptive for everyone else who is downtown. We cannot expect disturbances such as the one we saw on Monday to be corrected as long as hundreds of unsupervised RCSD students continue to be brought downtown at the same time as part of the district's transportation program."
Richards says all parties at the meeting agreed that:
1) The responsibility of transporting children safely to and from school lies with the RCSD;
2) RCSD will be actively engaged in monitoring the transportation of students, including having the appropriate personnel on site; and
3) A new plan must be devised and implemented promptly — although it's not clear if he's referring to a transportation plan or something else.
Richards say that he will monitor the effectiveness of the plan devised by RCSD and RGRTA.
"The Rochester Police Department will continue to deploy significant resources to deal with problems that may arise, but ultimately this is an issue that the RCSD must address in a permanent manner," the statement says.