News Release -- Mayor Warren Launches Office of Neighborhood Safety to Coordinate Community Violence Reduction Efforts

City of Rochester

News Release

(Tuesday, May 4, 2021) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren and City Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot announced today that the City has built the framework for an Office of Neighborhood Safety to coordinate the missions of civilian violence-reduction organizations to give the community a greater role public safety with a unified strategy. 

“This new City office will put the job of neighborhood safety and violence reduction where it belongs, in the hands of the community,” said Mayor Warren. “The Office of Neighborhood Safety gives us the tool we need to place the citizens of Rochester at the forefront of our mission to cultivate safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, which is a critical component of the Equity and Recovery Agenda and our efforts to create more jobs and better educational opportunities.”

“Violence in Rochester is a public health crisis that requires a community response that is both comprehensive and focused,” said Vice President Lightfoot, who is also chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Recreation and Human Services Committee. “The Office of Neighborhood Safety will unite the many community organizations that are already working in this space to craft and implement a community response that focuses each of their unique talents toward that collective mission of violence prevention and reduction. I applaud Mayor Warren for creating an Office that will serve the community by listening to the community.”

The framework released Tuesday would create an Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) in the Department of Recreation and Human Services. The mission of the Office is to foster a “whole city approach to reducing violence” by serving as central hub to coordinate the development of a communitywide Violence Reduction Strategy that would guide public and private sector investments in social programs, including those administered Pathways to Peace; the ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition; and the Youth Advocate Program.

With a goal to include the ONS in the City’s forthcoming 2021-22 budget, Mayor Warren unveiled an action plan to hire an ONS Coordinator in May and in July convene a Violence Prevention Summit of community organizations to develop a violence reduction strategy that would guide funding streams from public and private sources with mechanisms for oversight, accountability and public reporting.

A Request for Proposals will be issued in January seeking proposals from community organizations that can demonstrate and ability to help accomplish the objectives of the violence prevention strategy that is developed and meet accountability requirements. The Violence Prevention Summit would re-convene in July 2022 to assess the effectiveness of the strategy and offer improvements.

The ONS would also oversee the Mayor’s Peacemaker Fellowship, which would identify city residents with a high likelihood of becoming victims of gun violence and enroll them as Fellows in a rigorous personal development program that includes mentorships, peer-to-peer learning to achieve education, career and other life goals. The Peacemaker Fellowship is based on a program in Richmond, Calif. that contributed to significant reductions in homicides and gun violence.

The proposals to create the ONS and establish the Peacemaker Fellowship are among the initiatives included in Mayor Warren’s Equity and Recovery Agenda (ERA), a comprehensive strategy unveiled in January to propel Rochester’s post-pandemic recovery by recognizing and reversing effects of historic racism and institutional inequality.

“We have a wide variety of programs and initiatives across the City, both public and private that are dedicated to stopping violence,” Mayor Warren wrote. “What is clear is that the coordination and, therefore, the effectiveness of these programs must be improved.”

The initiative included an aggressive timetable to include the ONS in City’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget, which begins in July, by appointing a task force to study existing violence-reduction programs and initiatives and develop a plan to coordinate their missions and integrate their objectives into the community’s response Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 City’s comprehensive plan for Police Reform.

DHRS is also the parent Department of the Office of Crisis Intervention Services, which oversees the Persons in Crisis Teams to provide a civilian response to emergency calls involving individuals dealing with issues of behavioral health or substance abuse.

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News Media: For more information, contact Communications Director Justin Roj at Justin.Roj@CityofRochster.gov.