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Rochester to partner with RIT on study of gang-related shootings

A police officer inside a Rochester police cruiser.
James Brown/WXXI News file photo
A police officer inside a Rochester police cruiser.

The city of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology are set to partner on a study of gang-related violence in the city.

The Department of Justice awarded a $100,000 grant to RIT to compile all data related to shootings in Rochester between 2010 and 2022. It’ll allow for a student researcher to sift through shooting narratives in police reports and identify trends in victims, perpetrators, and events surrounding the shootings. That data will be compiled into a single database, which expands on information in the city’s current database of shootings.

Additionally, RIT will steer $25,000 from the grant to the Rochester Police Department to fund overtime costs pertaining to efforts by officers to intervene in retaliatory violence driven by gang-related disputes.

Mayor Malik Evans has introduced legislation to City Council asking for its approval of the partnership. City Council will vote on the measure on Tuesday, May 23.

Barbara Pierce, a spokesperson for the city of Rochester, said the project is a step in creating evidence-based solutions for responding to “group violent disputes.”

“This is part of continued progress we’ve been making in the past year-and-a-half of data-driven solutions to violence,” Pierce said.

While the city and police department are often reluctant to identify gangs as a key contributor to violence, the legislation itself says specifically that the research is meant to “reduce gang-related violent disputes.”

Pierce said the primary goal of the project is to identify patterns of violence based on past shootings, and help the department create preparation and response plans for future occurrences of violent disputes between groups.

So far this year, 64 people have been shot in the city, nine of them fatally. The city set a record for shootings in 2021, when 419 people were shot, and 57 died. Most victims were Black, at 87.4 percent, and male, at 82.6 percent.

If approved the partnership between the city and RIT will last through September 2025.

Gino Fanelli covers City Hall. He joined the staff as a reporter in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.