Rochester, N.Y. – A police initiative aimed at cracking down on recent violence has sparked concerns about racial profiling.
Under pressure to respond to a spike in shootings, police announced “Cool Down Detail.” Eight people have been killed in the past 30 days. So far this year, 95 people have survived shootings, compared to 55 this time last year.
Cool Down will deploy four extra officers to patrol high crime areas. The mounted patrol and other units will also be used as needed. Chief James Sheppard police will be highly visible.
The focus will be on getting illegal guns off the streets. Part of the strategy will target minor offenses.
“If you’re riding a bike and it doesn’t have a bell, we’re going to stop you. If it doesn’t have lights, we’re going to stop you. Tail light’s out – we’re going to stop you,” said Sheppard. “If you’re on a corner and we think you’re engaged in criminal activity, we’re going to stop you.”
Those aren’t the kind of patrols factory worker Connell Chambers wants in his Jefferson Ave. neighborhood.
“Now it’s coming down to racial profiling for them to find out who has the guns,” Chambers said. He’d prefer police sweep open-air drug markets and go after known criminals.
Charlie Middlebrooks also expressed frustration with open-air drug markets. Her 17-year-old grandson was shot earlier this year. She welcomes extra police patrols, but is skeptical Cool Down will work.
“What can they do? They can’t catch the people doing the shootings,” she said.