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Campaign Q&A: crime, police, and the mayor 

Public safety has become one of the biggest issues in this year's campaign for Rochester mayor. In part, that's because after a decline, Rochester's murder rate has been rising. In part, it's because one of the Democratic candidates is Bob Duffy, the popular police chief who retired to run for mayor.

            Duffy's two principal rivals in the Democratic primary, Tim Mains and Wade Norwood, have harshly criticized Duffy for his reorganization of the police department. Duffy took what had been seven police sections and combined them into two, one on the east side of the GeneseeRiver and one on the west.

            The purpose of the reorganization was to use the police force more efficiently and effectively, given the city's limited budget. A study by the Center for Governmental Research found that under the old organization, response time and work load were seriously affected. Police sections serving the highest-crime neighborhoods had far more calls for help than did the sections serving low-crime neighborhoods. There were not a corresponding number of police officers assigned to the high-crime areas, however. The result: delays in response in the neighborhoods needing the most service.

            CGR studied a variety of ways to reorganize the department and recommended changing to two sections. "Moving to this model will clearly allow the RPD to provide faster response to Calls for Service during periods of peak demand," said CGR's report.

            City Council approved the reorganization, and Duffy carried it out. CGR has now completed a study of the effects of that change, but city officials have not released the study. Both Mains and Norwood, however, say that there've been enough anecdotal reports of citizen and police dissatisfaction to cast serious doubts on the reorganization. Norwood wants to abandon it; Mains is less firm, saying he'll wait to see City Council's independent assessment before reaching a decision.

            Another charge by Mains and Norwood is that Duffy didn't move boldly enough to fill vacancies on the force. There is general agreement that the police department has been operating with about 50 vacancies. There is less agreement, however, on how easily the force can be brought up to full strength. Duffy says the department is hindered by the Civil Service System, which has offered tests for police officers only once a year.

            In addition, a study ordered by Mayor Bill Johnson noted a second factor hindering police recruitment: the police department's low percentage of minority officers. A federal consent decree requires Rochester to hire at least one minority recruit for every two white recruits, but the study found that it's been hard to attract enough qualified minority applicants.

            Following are edited excerpts from our interviews with Duffy, Norwood, and Mains on the issue of public safety.

Read City's interview with Tim Mains by clicking here!

Read City's interview Bob Duffy by clicking here!

Read City's interview Bob Duffy by clicking here!

In This Guide...

  • Bob Duffy: a Q&A on crime

    City: What specific steps will you take within the police department and the rest of the criminal justice system to reduce the level of crime? Duffy: Well first of all, I would like to point to the successes we've had and our track record so far.

  • Wade Norwood: Q&A on crime

    City: What specific steps will you take within the police department to reduce crime? Norwood: Number one, I believe that we need to reverse the reorganization and move to a structure that allows for more neighborhood connection between the police officers and the neighborhoods they patrol.

  • Tim Mains: Q&A on crime

    City: What specific steps will you take within the police department to reduce crime?             Mains: Step one, have an exceptional chief of police.

  • Chris Maj: the Dems’ long shot

    Chris Maj wants Rochester to form its own militia. He wants us to stop paying state and federal taxes.

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