The City of Rochester is standing behind the success of one of its anti-violence outreach programs, despite the arrest of one employee on gun and drug charges.

The program, called Pathways to Peace, includes a street-level team of outreach workers who negotiate with young people at risk of becoming violent or being victims of violence.

Leaders say it’s been successful because some of those reaching out have their own criminal past and are now trying to make a difference. But now, one Pathways to Peace employee is under arrest.

The topic came up following a news conference on Tuesday at Rochester City Hall.

Mayor Malik Evans and the city’s top leaders gathered to offer an update on the city’s crime-prevention and anti-violence efforts.

Pathways to Peace employee Timothy Jackson is charged in a lengthy federal criminal complaint.

“I think that is something that is sad for us because we give people second chances in our community and we hope that they hold themselves to a higher standard, in particular, when they are trying to fight gun violence," said Evans. 

Police say they carried out a narcotics-related search warrant in the city of Rochester. Jackson, 46, is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. He’s prohibited from possessing a firearm in New York state due to his 2005 conviction for criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

That’s not the type of resume for a typical hire, unless the job is for Pathways for Peace or a similar program.

“That’s generally the case for most street worker programs throughout the country,” said Victor Saunders, the mayor's advisor for violence prevention. “If you would ask other street worker programs downstate and other places, you wouldn’t have someone that’s working clerical come out and doing street work for individuals who will most likely be involved in violence and gang activity.”

Saunders works with other cities looking to learn more about the Pathways to Peace program and he seeks to learn from them.

“We’ve always shared information with other cities,” he said. “Information has gone out. People calling us. Us going to Chicago on the cease-fire program and whatnot. And understand the need for individuals working in these targeted areas, neighborhoods, are people that our young people can see as someone who has something to say as it relates to their lifestyle.”

Saunders says Rochester is seeing high success with the program.

“Well considering since we started in 1998, this is the first time we’ve had to have this discussion. So I think we are doing very well,” he said. “The good people I have working with for us with the city, Pathways to Peace, school-based as well as street outreach, is phenomenal.”

In addition to the weapons charges, the case against Jackson also alleges drug activity. The complaint alleges that Jackson is one of the leaders of an alleged Rochester-based drug trafficking organization accused of distributing multiple kilograms of cocaine. It alleges Jackson is involved in the transportation and sale of cocaine and acts of violence in furtherance of the organization’s drug trade.

“A court of law will adjudicate this situation, but I don’t think it’s a reflection on the work of other individuals who are doing the right thing day in and day out," said Evans.

“We’re going to go with all the good work that’s being accomplished, allow things to fall where they may and continue moving forward," said Saunders.