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Bello says to call 911 on physical distancing violators

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Monroe County Executive Adam Bello on Monday advised citizens to call 911 if they see people or businesses violating physical distance guidelines.

Speaking to reporters through a video news conference, Bello said the county was taking an “education first, enforcement second” approach to the matter and that alerting 911 to large gatherings will help the county gather data on “hot spots” of activity and allow law enforcement to educate residents on safe practices. 
A screenshot of Adam Bello from his April 13 news conference. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • A screenshot of Adam Bello from his April 13 news conference.


“We have a three-tiered approach and strategy to enforce social distancing, but the best approach is to really work together as a community,” Bello said, adding that the county was providing police with informational cards on physical distancing guidelines to distribute when they are summoned to large gatherings.

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 for violating social distancing guidelines, which include maintaining six feet of distance from others and barring social gatherings.

Bello’s remarks came on the heels of a large gathering of people in Rochester on Sunday in response to a triple shooting earlier in the day that left one man dead and another seriously injured.

Scores of people converged on Miller Street and Clifford Avenue for an impromptu vigil. A Facebook live video of the event that was widely shared showed people huddled closely together at the intersection.



Mayor Lovely Warren addressed the situation in a video news conference Monday, saying that allowing the gathering to peacefully grieve was safer than possibly escalating the situation by summoning police to disperse the crowd.

“We believe that allowing the community to come together and mourn was safer for everybody concerned than it was to interrupt or insert our peace officers into the middle of the gathering,” Warren said.

"We knew that there was heightened emotion, people had just lost a loved one and a friend, and we needed to make sure that everyone was safe," Warren continued. "For us, that includes our officers, that includes our citizens. And we kept an eye on it and that's the best thing we could do."

Speaking at the same news conference, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said his officers are committed to curbing violence during the epidemic.

“We remain steadfast on focusing on those individuals who choose to engage in violent acts in this community,” Singletary said.

Local governments are tasked with enforcing the state’s physical distancing order, although enforcement has been sporadic here and reportedly across the state.

Bello said Monroe County hasn’t issued fines yet, but added that if large gatherings persist, public parks will be closed and penalties will take effect.

“Right now the county parks are open, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Bello said. “But to do that, we have to be responsible.”

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at gfanelli@rochester-citynews.com.