Young men were fatally shot this summer outside of places that are supposed to be safe havens for city youth: the David F. Gantt Community Center on Webster Avenue and the Boys and Girls Club on Genesee Street. The killings resulted in loud calls for something to be done about the chronic violence plaguing some Rochester neighborhoods.
But violence is a complicated problem. Governments and communities need to discuss and put in place comprehensive, multi-faceted approaches if they want lasting change.
This summer's violence has now entered the Monroe County executive race. This morning, Democratic candidate Sandy Frankel released an anti-violence agenda, which includes enacting the recommendations of a 1992 report from the Community Mobilization Against Violence.
Among the report's recommendations is the creation of a joint city-county anti-violence task force, which Frankel says would be implemented within 30 days of her election. She says she'd also create an Office of Anti-Violence within the county's Department of Public Safety to staff the task force. (The 1992 report is attached at the end of this post.)
"We must transform our shock and grief into a shared resolve to address the root causes of violence," Frankel says in a statement. "We must work together to ensure that our children are not another statistic. We must stand together against this tide of violence."
The task force would go through the 1992 report to weed out dated recommendations and prioritize others, many of which deal with addressing Rochester's concentrated poverty. The task force would also examine the upcoming Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative report to identify complementary proposals, Frankel says. And it'd analyze the role that organized and ad hoc youth gangs play in the violence, she says.
Frankel lays out several other proposals in her press release:
- Creating an outreach team within the county's Office of Mental Health to respond to acts of violence. The OMH staff will work with clergy, community organizations, and families of past victims to provide counseling and support, and to "determine the short- and long-term needs of the community";
- asking the state attorney general to provide an ongoing gun-buyback amnesty program for Monroe County and proposing legislation that would require gun buyers to also purchase a gun lock;
- directing the county's public safety and human services administrators to work with the sheriff to develop a plan to increase recruitment of minorities and women to jobs as deputies. Frankel says she'll also invite clergy to partner in the effort;
- starting an internship and loan program at Monroe Community College where income-eligible youth would be able to repay their student-loan debt by working as police officers or human services workers.
1992 Community Mobilization Against Violence Report by jmouleatcity