Over the past year, Rochester city officials say crime has decreased.
“I see a police department that is doing an incredible job. The men and women of the RPD deserve credit for these numbers,” said Mayor Lovely Warren. ”I also see a police department that is fully engaged with the community it serves.”
Warren held a press conference with interim Rochester Police Chief Mark Simmons to discuss their report about crime dropping 27 percent in 2018 to its lowest point in 39 years.
“To those offenders who chose to go out and break the law or engage in criminal activity – the city, the citizens of Rochester, as well as our police department, stand as a united front to protect our city and the children in our city,” said Simmons.
The numbers may exhibit a less violent Rochester, but to a member of one underserved demographic, those numbers don’t tell the whole story of the ongoing crime within the minority youth community.
“When I go on Facebook it’s always about somebody about to fight or somebody’s beefing with somebody else,” says 17-year-old, African-American entrepreneur, Yasir Phipps while at the Center for Teen Empowerment on Genesee Street. There, he writes music and connects with other area teens.
“I work at Teen Empowerment so they already have a relationship with the police. I know that they come here and talk to us about the community, how we’re doing and how we feel.”
Though Phipps commends the police on the low crime rates, he believes more work needs to be done to help the underserved teens and officers bridge the gap.
“I shouldn’t have to be afraid to be in a car and I get stopped for no reason,” he said.
Phipps recalls a time that was alarming, he said, “I’ve seen them ride past and I already know they are about to turn around and that’s exactly what they did and I told them my name.”
Phipps says officers called him a liar and he responded with, “I’m not lying; I’m telling you my real name. That happened on my own street and I was just walking home from work.”
The 2018 report shows that for the first time since 1985, the number of crimes designated as the most serious by the FBI has dropped below 9,000.
At the end of Warren’s speech, she reassured the public that steps are being taken to address crime and poverty through education, job creation and neighborhood revitalization.
Phipps says the next time he’s approached by an officer – which he or she should, “think before they do stuff because maybe if they thought about it more, it wouldn’t get to a point where it would result in a negative action.”