ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- In just 48 hours, Rochester saw three homicides and several shootings, including an officer-involved shooting.
Angry and frustrated, Rochester Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said he wants more to be done to fight back against the violence and crime in the city.
“Enough is enough, and it’s time to stop,” Mazzeo said. “We need resources to stop this violence. For too long, there’s been nothing more than a shell game going on in the city by moving police officers around and giving the appearance that we have enough cops in the street -- when we don’t have enough cops in the street.”
Mazzeo said the force still has the same number of officers it had 50 years ago, except now he said they take more than half a million phone calls a year. Not only does he say officers are tired, overworked, and burning out, but he also said many don’t feel safe on the street like they used to.
Mazzeo added the city budget needs to be focused on getting more officers on the street.
“We can’t just listen to city hall talk about the public coming forward and helping,” Mazzeo said. “If we don’t have enough cops to follow up on information that the public is giving us, it’s not going to do any good … You know, I can speak because I’m not appointed by the mayor, so I can speak to the truth. Right now, we need money and resources and it costs money. It may mean other programs suffer, or you might not get a boat to float by Charlotte and wave to people. Maybe you should use that money to get rid of this violence and what we’re facing right now.”
Besides just feeling and seeing the frustration in his eyes, at one point Mazzeo even said he's not sure what else they can do now except hope for more cold weather to keep the violence at bay. Mazzeo also said before they can address the underlying issues causing the violence, they need to take urgent action.
“There’s poverty, there’s drugs, there’s a number of issues, social issues that come into play, but when it reaches this level of violence, you have to take immediate actions,” Mazzeo said. “Then you put these other policies in place to keep the violence down.”
Mazzeo notes, even if a crime is targeted at a specific person, a bullet’s path can end anywhere.
“If we can’t protect our own, we’re not protecting anybody out in the neighborhoods,” Mazzeo said.
Last year, the city moved from a two-section policing model to a five-section model to improve police relations. Mazzeo says he hasn’t seen any improvement from that either because they don’t have enough police officers.
TWC News reached out to Mayor Lovely Warren on Saturday for comment. A spokesperson says she plans to hold a press conference on Monday.