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Mayor Evans extends the Rochester gun violence state of emergency. What does the order do?

Mayor Malik Eavns, wearing a suit, shakes hands with Chief Dave Smith, wearing a Rochester Police coat, with people applauding in the back and foreground.
Max Schulte
Mayor Malik Evans and Chief David Smith.

Mayor Malik Evans has again extended the city’s gun violence state of emergency, though shootings and homicides continue to trend downward.

So far this year, 135 people have been shot, 17 of them fatally, according to data from the Rochester Police Department. Those numbers are down 41% and 30% from this time last year, when 31 people had been killed by gunfire, and around 200 people had been shot.

In total, Rochester has seen 22 homicides so far this year, compared to 38 by this time in 2022, or a drop of 42%.

Evans said while the numbers are encouraging, they aren’t good enough to justify ending the state of emergency, which is renewed monthly.

“Gun violence is not something that we’re going to let our foot off the gas of,” Evans said. “It’s important that we still focus on that.”

The gun violence state of emergency is an order which gives extended powers to the mayor, Police Chief David Smith, and the city’s top lawyer Linda Kingsley to address potential problem areas for gun violence. For example, Kingsley said the city has used the order to shut down businesses which are hosting after-hours events, which officials have linked to gun violence. Smith has been granted the authority to shut down entire streets when issues appear on them regularly. He has not yet invoked that power.

Kingsley pointed specifically to a shutdown order issued to Flatlinerz Allstar, a tattoo shop on North Clinton which she said had begun hosting after-hours parties without a permit.

“Those that continue to thumb their noses at the city, we will then follow with a closure order, whether through a revocation of their entertainment license, revocation of their business permit, or an order in the state Supreme Court, which we’ve done on a number of occasions to get a permanent closure,” Kingsley said.

Along with cracking down on house parties and unsanctioned gatherings, Evans said the city will be tightening security around public parks to keep people out after hours. That move follows a Fourth of July shooting at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.

City parks close at 10 p.m.

Evans stressed he is not instituting a curfew on city youth.

“What we’re saying is we can’t have kids having illegal gatherings in illegal parks,” Evans said. “We don’t have a curfew, and we don’t have restrictions on where anyone can go, and we won’t have restrictions on people as long as we can keep things under control.”

Evans also addressed the most highly publicized spate of crime in the city—the spike in car thefts, specifically of Kias and Hyundais. So far this year, 2,423 vehicles have been stolen in Rochester. That is more than double the 1,114 stolen through 2022, previously the highest number in the past decade.

In all, 251 people were arrested for vehicle theft this year, 114 of which were juveniles. The thefts have been gradually trending down in recent months.

Victor Saunders, head of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, said his office has launched a website which aims to reach people at risk of getting caught up in violence or criminal behavior with resources to get them on a better track. When asked what the kids caught stealing cars say about why they did it, he offered a succinct answer.

“What I am getting back from individuals who have sat down and spent time with these teenagers is boredom,” Saunders said. “I have some kids say, ‘Listen, it’s just something to do.’”

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.
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