“Torture is an open secret in Chicago. Nobody in power wants to acknowledge this grim reality, but everyone knows it happens—and that the torturers are the police.”

That’s the opening of the summary of a new book called “The Torture Letters” written by Princeton University anthropology professor Laurence Ralph. Ralph is a social scientist who studies police violence and race in the United States.

He’s in Rochester as a guest of the University of Rochester, where he’ll give a lecture Wednesday evening. We talk to him about his research, and about police-community relations in American cities. In studio:

  • Laurence Ralph, professor of anthropology, and director of the Center on Transnational Policing at Princeton University; and author of “Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago,” and “The Torture Letters”


After a spike in homicides in the last several days, Mayor Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief LaRon Singletary on Friday made an appeal to the public to help stop the violence. They spoke at the Portland Avenue peace garden just south of Norton Street.

As always, Singletary says it’s important for people to speak up.

“I urge residents that if you know of a loved one involved in illegal activity, if you know someone carrying a gun out here in these streets. Call us before it’s too late,” Singletary said.

WATCH: Pathways to peace; the meaning and value of organ donations

May 2, 2019

An effort that launched more than two decades ago in Rochester to engage youth on city streets and to help teens find alternatives to drugs, gangs, and violence, is still operating. You'll see how how the effort is working, what’s changed, and you'll learn how residents have a role in helping young people find a pathway to peace.

Also on the show, a 21-year-old Hilton man passed on the gift of life and now his family is educating others about the meaning and value of organ donations. You'll hear from his father, the man whose life he saved, and others about the meaning of organ donation.

WATCH: How Teen Empowerment is speaking out against violence

Feb 26, 2019

A mass shooting outside the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester that took the lives of three young men continues to haunt our community. Since the tragic events of August 19th, 2015, more area teens are using their voices speak out against violence and injustices directly impacting our neighborhoods and our youth. Some of the young people leading that effort are youth organizers with the Center for Teen Empowerment. On this edition of Need to Know, we learn how their stop the violence events among other outreach campaigns are working to change the story of the city’s west side.

Sayak Valencia is a transfeminist scholar and activist who is in Rochester this week to talk to local students about the realities of immigration. She recently returned from interviewing migrants at the southern border.

Valencia shares what she learned at the border and discusses how immigration, capitalism, and violence intersect. In studio:

  • Sayak Valencia, professor and researcher in the Department of Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, and author of "Gore Capitalism"
  • Rev. Nadia Mullin, Protestant chaplain in the Center for Spirituality at Nazareth College
  • Ana Gómez Parga, professor of media and communication at Nazareth College
  • Sarah Schuler, student at Nazareth College, and former student leader for the Solidarity and Social Justice Retreat 
  • Juliana Joyce, student at Nazareth College, and former student leader for the Solidarity and Social Justice Retreat 

The murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts has sparked fresh conversations about the dangers women face while running in public. Tibbetts was abducted and killed while out for a jog.

Women often describe the anxiety they feel in public when exercising, and frequently think about escape plans in the event of an attack. How common are such attacks? What do women want men to know about their experiences and concerns? Our guests:

Dr. Charles Kimball is an author and the chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He’s in Rochester as a guest of Nazareth College for a presentation titled, “When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion.”

He joins us in studio to discuss how in today’s global world, the intersection of religion and politics can have volatile consequences. He discusses those consequences, and what he thinks leaders can do to build a healthy society. In studio:

Dating violence is a widespread issue, and many teens who are victims of violence in relationships do not report their experiences out of fear. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the CDC, "23 percent of females and 14 percent of males who ever experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age."

We'll discuss teen dating abuse and new initiatives that address barriers faced by survivors. Willow Domestic Violence Center is leading the way with local initiatives. It's opening a new state-of-the-art facility that includes an expanded emergency shelter, an expanded counseling center, and an onsite pet shelter.

Our guests:

WATCH: Juvenile justice reform in Rochester

Apr 25, 2017

When kids lash out or negatively act and speak out in the classroom there are repercussions. There’s detention, suspension, expulsion and sometimes legal ramifications. But what’s the story behind their behavior? And what would the response be if we knew, that for some, their actions are directly connected to the violence they’ve witnessed or endured and the long-term damage that violence has caused such as trauma? According to a survey done by the Department of Justice, 58 percent of kids have experienced or witnessed violence. On this edition of Need to Know we hear about a local effort to mitigate the impact of this public health crisis.

Children are impacted by violence in deep and long-lasting ways. A fresh look at the issue reveals that violence is a part of the lives of children across the spectrum: poverty and affluence, city and suburbs. How to change that? And what, exactly, do we know about the lives of children impacted by violence? Our panel in studio:

  • Dr. Jeff Kazarowski, president of The Children's Agenda
  • Sheree Toth, Director of the Mt. Hope Family Center and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester
  • Jerome Underwood, Rochester City School District community liaison