How to Reduce Violence in Rochester

In light of the recent increase of shootings in Rochester, we owe it to our young people to develop and implement plans to reduce violence in our city. Rochester is not the only city that has faced gun violence in recent years so there are many templates which have shown some success.  Perhaps the most promising approach is to treat violence like an epidemic rather than merely a police problem.  This is the approach that Oakland used with there Measure Y initiative, and NYC used with its Anti-Violence Interrupters program. By looking at programs such as these we can create a blueprint to restore peace to the streets of Rochester with three major components: street outreach, increased services, and jobs.

The first step is to identify troubled areas with potential for gun violence.  These areas will then have neighborhood outreach teams sent in made up of people with experience in gangs and street life, training in conflict resolution, and knowledge of the services available to help people.  These outreach workers will establish connects with young people in there area letting young people know they are valued and loved.  They will also try to intervene where there are conflicts to help diffuse the situation before it turns to gun violence. 

The street outreach teams will also try to connect people to necessary services.  These may be educational, recreational, vocational, health related, counselling, drug treatment and trauma treatment.  This will require the city and county to enhance their services so the young people in these areas are not put on long waiting lists, or encounter closed libraries and understaffed recreation centers.

Finally to break the allure of drugs and gangs young people need to have jobs.  FDR understood this when facing the crisis of the depression and we can no longer ignore it when facing the poverty in our neighborhoods.  Too often young people choose a path of violence as it seems like the best chance for them as in too many of our neighborhoods the only person hiring is the drug dealer and the only way in is a gang.  To break this we have to provide jobs even if these are to clean up trash in our streets, paint buildings, plant trees, or work on parks.  Only with an option for employment can we truly combat the violence in our neighborhoods. 

Such a plan would provide Rochester with its best chance to reduce the violence on our streets and the best way to protect the youth of our city.  Both of which are worth the investment.


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