The Rochester Police Department Reorganization Plan splits the city into five different sections, as opposed to the current two-section model, with each section under the jurisdiction of its own captain.
Despite a snowstorm and temperatures in the single digits, residents came out to the Northeast Service Center to meet the new section captain of the Clinton Section.
Captain Wilson "Wil" Johnson has been with the Rochester Police Department for 32 years, and a captain for the last three. He has a Masters Degree in Pastoral Studies from St. Bernard's, and says his motto for policing comes right from the Golden Rule.
"Do to other people how you want them to treat you. And the other part is, don't do to people what you don't want them to do to you. And that's really my philosophy and that's how I plan to run Clinton section."
He says he chose the Clinton section, despite other options, because he knows the neighborhood's potential.
"This is a great community, and it could be better. And I know you want it to be better and I know you coming out tonight in this snow storm shows me how bad you want this to be better."
Johnson says one of his plans for the future of the department is to get more police officers out of their cars and walking the streets of the neighborhoods they patrol.
"One thing I found many years ago when I was working the 3-11 shift as a police officer out on Webster Ave, I found out by walking how many great people live in that neighborhood. And those people were people that supported me while I was out there. That's something that we need, to instill a culture of that in our department."
Most residents in attendance were community leaders and activists who approve of the reorganization plan. John Cook says he remembers when Rochester was split into seven police districts prior to 2004. He welcomes the change back, because he says policing is more effective when officers know someone personally.
"Calling me by my name and telling me, hey, get home or get off the streets. I now look back at that and miss that because it made me feel like he cares, and it also made me feel like if he comes around that corner again, you know... And that's the difference."
Others voiced their agreement with Cook, but not everyone at the community meeting was convinced of the benefits of the plan. Hector Vargas has concerns about the drug problem in his neighborhood. He says he's not sure reorganization is going to solve the problem on its own.
"I have yet to see anything by it. We need to start enforcing our drug-free zones, and we need more police officers in our area."
The reorganization plan will not add police officers to the force, it will just redistribute officers according to the new five-section layout. It also increases the number of individual police beats from 22 to 37, which Mayor Warren and Chief Ciminelli have said they hope will improve the safety of the city, and foster trust between citizens and officers.
The reorganization plan has been rolled out little by little, but is expected to start in earnest in March. The cost is estimated at about $325,000 annually.