Rochester, N.Y.-- It has been a violent year for Rochester so far.
There have been 21 homicides in the city. This time last year there were 15 homicides. There have been 95 shootings so far, compared to just 55 by July 2011.
On Tuesday, the Rochester Police Department announced a new initiative to try to curb some of the violence in the city. The new "Cool Down" detail will involve ramping up patrols in some of Rochester's most crime-ridden areas. Also, police will start targeting offenders of minor crimes and violations.
Police began the patrol on Tuesday evening and allowed 13WHAM News to follow along.
Lt. Eric Paul of the RPD's Tactical Unit says the "Cool Down" detail involves most of what they already do.
"We're just increasing the number of officers that are on the street," Paul says. "Our student resource officers are out there talking to teens on patrol. Our mounted units have moved out from the downtown area to the neighborhoods themselves."
Paul says they will be making legal stops for any infractions. He explains that those minor offenses could sometimes lead to the discovery of a more serious crime like an illegal possession of a gun.
"It could mean stopping a bicycle with no light while someone is riding it unsafely at night," he says. "They might be carrying a gun-- which happens quite often. Then that's a great opportunity to make a legal, justified controlled stop. If it's something simple, nine times out of ten, we're just going to give you a warning and tell you to go home, but if there's more to it, we're going to take the necessary steps towards finding the drugs or guns."
This new campaign has drawn some criticism as some are concerned it could lead to racial profiling.
"They see someone that looks like they're from the streets and they automatically think they are up to no good," says Toneka Haynes.
The Genesee Valley chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union says the new campaign is the wrong solution.
"The police chief wants to have a community where they aren't afraid of the police, but this "Cool Down" is going to have the exact opposite effect," says KaeLyn Rich, the local director. "They are outright saying that the goal is not to cut down on petty crimes, but that they are hoping to find a reason to search people."
According to Rich, New York City implemented a similar policy and reports shows it did little to decrease violence.
"The police should be focusing on improving community relations and improving relationships with the people they're serving," Rich says.
Police believe this "Cool Down" will do just that.
"I see this as nothing but a positive," says Paul. "I would think most of the community wants us to be out here and wants us to be as proactive as we can."
Rochester Police Chief James Shepard says they will be reviewing this policy throughout the coming months to see if it is helping. There is no word on how long the "Cool Down" detail will last.