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'We need to put the lid back on': State offers jobs, training to help stem violence

James Brown
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul details New York's anti violence jobs plan at the David Gantt R. Center on North Street in July 2021.

As part of the state’s push to decrease gun violence, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Rochester’s David Gantt R-Center on North Street on Thursday.

Citing nearly 200 shooting incidents in Rochester so far this year, Hochul said it wasn’t this way just a few years ago. 

Rochester Police data from 2018 shows there were 137 shooting incidents that year; in 2019, there were 157. Last year, there were 267. 

The number of shooting victims is up as well. Over the last decade, Rochester averaged just under 200 victims each year. Last year, there were 335, and as of last Saturday, the city is on pace for 412 this year. The Rochester Police open data portal has not been updated this week.

Hochul blamed the rise of violent acts nationwide on the rough economic and social conditions over the last year and a half. 

“I believe this is an outcome of the tension in society that erupted during this pandemic," Hochul said. "We just need to put the lid back on and control it, and we will.”

The Democrat met with leaders from the city, Monroe County, nonprofits and community groups to discuss implementing New York state’s plan to curb violence by reaching out to at-risk youths. Hochul said the state used census data to identify 1,097 young people in eight high-crime neighborhoods.

“We literally can pinpoint where the crime is coming from," she said. "Sixty percent of violent acts in the city of Rochester have come from these census tracts.” 

According to Hochul's office, these crimes are coming from 38 census tracts and nine ZIP codes: 14605, 14606, 14608, 14609, 14611, 14613, 14615, 14619, and 14621.

The idea is to find these youths and intervene with summer jobs for high schoolers or training opportunities for people up to age 24. The training programs include mechanical repair, culinary, health care, IT software support, cybersecurity, construction management, and building trades. 

Credit Rochester Police Department
A screencapture from the Rochester Police open data portal. It shows the spike in shooting victims over the last 18 months.

She described the youths as “people at risk of falling into a cycle of violence and finding that their existence pertains to a gang society rather than traditional families.”

Hochul said no law enforcement agency was involved with gathering the data, adding that they were not even invited to these meetings. She said this is about the jobs, and they have other plans for working with police.

The state has earmarked $2.25 million for anti-violence efforts in Rochester. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday $16 million for workforce training and job placement programs statewide. Specifically, the money would be used in cities with high levels of gun violence. 

There is funding for 3,200 youths statewide. In Rochester, Hochul said the program would pay for 181 summer jobs and 450 training opportunities and long-term jobs.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.