Transforming Rochester Podcast 9 - RPD Needs New Leadership

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alex and Dave discuss the recent incident in Downtown Rochester.  Rochester residents of various ages, races and economic class were marching through downtown delivering an anti-capitalism message.  Whether you agree with that message, the Rochester Police Department's reaction was totally inappropriate and shows why Chief James Sheppard either should resign or be dismissed.  Alex and Dave discuss why as well as different options for the police department.

Here's the link to Rochester Roots that was discussed when they went on a brief tangent.

You can listen to the podcast here, click the link to the right or tune into Rochester Free Radio.

Video of the arrests:

Transforming Rochester Podcast 8 - 399 Gregory Street

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alex White went to a neighborhood meeting on the night of this podcast and we get to hear all about it.  The City has been promoting development at 399 Gregory Street; the neighbors don't want it, yet the City continues to push this project along.  From there we discuss what should residents' role be in terms of neighborhood development.  It would seem that no one at City Hall has heard of Community Councils.  Dave Atias takes that to the next level.  Should we educate our "leaders" about alternatives to their methods - like co-ops.  We may send the Mayor a copy of the new game Co-opoly.  Listen to Transforming Rochester on Rochester Free Radio.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or by the link in the right column.

Rochester's effort to annoy crime

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In 1985 Rochester enacted a law designed to help the city close illegal operations. The purpose was to allow the city to assign points for illegal activities and if a property obtained too many points then it could be closed and the tenants evicted. This ordinance sighted a need to stop illegal drug trade, prostitution , illicit gun sales, dog fighting and the like activities. If a place received 12 points in a 6 month period or 18 in a year then the city could close the property down and force it to become vacant. Well it is still on the books and the city has turned this system upon lawful landlords and businesses. Unfortunately the provisions of this law grant a great deal of leeway in determining if a property is responsible for criminal activity and what activities should get points. So while this statue was designed to give points to a business which was selling drugs now the business can get points if someone sells drugs outside the business even if the business is closed! It is often used against bars and restaurants to punish them for being robbed or having rowdy patrons who create trouble outside the establishment. It is also used against landlords who rent to drug dealers even if the landlord is cooperating with the police! The city uses this law to bully businesses when they have been a victim of a crime. This is most often used in response to new stories after a shooting or other problem. Then the city agrees not to close the business if they adopt additional precautions which usually cost the business money. The problem with this law is the effect it has upon businesses. In most cases a business is the best eyes on the street and is most concerned with preventing bad activities. Yet for many chronically troubled businesses like bars, corner stores, and restaurants this has the affect of discouraging them from calling the police. Further it makes it harder and more expensive for businesses to survive and discourages investment. Both of this help keep areas form becoming thriving business districts and have led to many commercial vacancies. So what is the solution to the initial problem as there are bad businesses. They tend to be disruptive to neighborhoods and hard to close. The problem is that this law does not stop criminals it only annoys them and forces them to move. While this might be good for a neighborhood on the short term it is not the solution. What we need to do is find ways to stop the criminal with effective police tactics aimed at businesses, and enforcement of measurable rules. This would close the bad business and leave the good ones to continue to operate in peace.

Transforming Rochester Podcast 7 - Cool Down Detail (Proactive Policing)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

This week, Alex and Dave discuss the Mayor's and Police Chief's Cool Down Detail.  This is just harassing people who are already harassed by the condition of their neighborhoods and it has never worked.  We have alternatives to proactive policing that relies on restorative justice, community policing, increased recreation and more.  We even tie this to Fair Tax Assessment!  Listen to the podcast, read the blog post and leave comments on our website and Facebook.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or use the download link in the right column.

An Alternative Approach to Reduce Crime

Rochester uses a police technique called Proactive Policing. This technique is what is being used in the recently announced, “Cool Down Detail.” This practice is where the police actively engage citizens before a crime is committed or a complaint is filed. The major elements of this are stop and question, stop and search, and move on notices. In effect they identify people whom the police identify as likely wrong doers and engage them in questioning, trying to find a reason to search the person or order them to move along.

This approach has the side effect of increased fear and mistrust between the community and the police. It also lowers the clearance rate (the percentage of crimes which the police can close the case due to an arrest or other solution) on crimes. This lowered clearance rate can be clearly seen in Rochester, where the rate of solving homicides has fallen from 80% to 26% in 25 years.

There are factors at work here like the closing of neighborhood police stations and RPD’s zero tolerance policy, but proactive policing also works to create a greater divide between the police and the policed. Thanks to these practices, there is now a culture where people in many neighborhoods and people of color are afraid to talk to the police. There are alternatives to these approaches.

The Department of Justice recommends a different approach for crime reduction and that is community policing. This approach actively engages the public but does so with the purpose of creating partnerships between the public and the police. It stresses community connections and a problem-solving approach to reduce crime using those relationships. The kind of relationships referred to here are essential in revamping RPD into a restorative police force, which is key to reducing violence in our city.

A restorative police force finds ways to repair the harm caused by crime rather than to be a retributive force. This does not mean the police are soft on crime. They must still investigate and apprehend criminals in many cases, but by using the positive relationships formed with community members, officers can prevent problems from becoming serious. It encourages community members to call the police before a law is broken to get help with a dispute. This approach is also very effective with the community problems associated with poverty and homelessness.

In an 18-month study of police forces where this technique is being used (Santa Barbara, California and Leicestershire, England were two participants) it was found that there was a reduction in recidivism of 15% for juveniles and 22.6% in adults. Further, these studies found that restorative community policing created huge savings to the community. This seems remarkable, but it is the experience of all places using community restorative policing. There is a reduction in costs for public safety, a reduction in repeat offenders, and a reduction in crime. The Mayor’s and Police Chief’s idea to stop people on bikes and otherwise harass members of the community who are already plagued with harassment from crime in the name of safety has already shown not to work and doing more of this will not stop violence, so perhaps it is time for Rochester to stop being the least safe city in NY and try a new approach, which at least offers some hope.

Listen to Alex...

...on Transforming Rochester on Rochester Free Radio. You can see when it's on at the Rochester Free Radio show schedule.

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