Rochester Area Legislators Hold Press Conference to Call for Increased Resources to Fight Crime, Boost Public Safety

Today, the Greater Rochester area members of the New York State Assembly Minority Conference hosted a press conference to discuss recent rises in violence and public safety concerns in the Greater Rochester area and throughout New York State.

The delegation of legislators included Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R,C,I-Greece), Deputy Minority Leader Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), Assemblyman Brian Manktelow (R,C,I-Lyons), Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia) and Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester). The members of the delegation are calling for more resources for law enforcement, increased access to mental health treatment facilities as well as increased study on the effects of poverty and the detrimental effects of recent criminal justice legislation statewide.

Supporters of the resource allocations believe recent changes to the state’s criminal justice system including Bail Reform, Raise the Age and the “Defund the Police” movement have resulted in the public safety catastrophe that New York state currently faces. The programs and resources advocated for by the Rochester area assembly members on Tuesday aim to address the root problems causing our police to be less effective and our communities less safe.

“In our community, and communities across New York State, the greatest concern of residents is public safety. The number one job of government is the protection of its citizens and New Yorkers believe state government is failing at protecting them from the clear and present danger of violent crime,” said Jensen. “We must do more to support our members of law enforcement, who are on our streets every day protecting the neighborhoods we live in. We must listen to them on the ways to stop the violence, get dangerous individuals behind bars, and give them the resources they need to do their job for all those that call New York home.”

“Our state’s communities continue to bear the brunt of the damage inflicted by the slew of criminal-friendly reforms pushed through by the legislative majorities since 2019,” said Hawley. “These reforms have constrained judges, undermined the ability of law enforcement to maintain law and order, disregarded the safety of victims and witnesses and discouraged the reporting of crimes -- further emboldening criminals and threatening public safety. The time has come to return to Albany for a special session to remedy this mess and restore judicial discretion before more innocent people get hurt.”

Byrnes said, “Changes to our criminal justice system, such as Raise the Age, have made a devastating impact on our family courts. Neither the system itself nor other juvenile offenders are prepared to be held with full-sized adult male murderers. Family courts were designed specifically for children, and now that these downstate-driven policies have drastically altered their mission, the system is in jeopardy without greater resources to support law enforcement immediately.”

“The violence we’ve seen in the Rochester area and throughout New York state during these last several years has been horrific, and the time has come for New York to stop coddling criminals and put law-abiding citizens and their safety first,” said Gallahan. “New York has taken the handcuffs off law enforcement officers’ belts and put them on their wrists, so it is critical that we return to Albany for a special legislative session to help them restore law and order in our state as soon as possible. We cannot wait for even more of our neighbors to fall victim to violence within their own communities to take action.”

“Realizing the need for mental health resources to help support our residents is the first step to keeping communities safe. We must address the obstacles being faced by those suffering from mental illness on a daily basis, including our veterans who fought bravely for our freedom and have returned to civilian life often facing substance abuse and mental health problems as a result of their time overseas,” said Manktelow. “Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) are unique to veterans who found themselves in a criminal situation and they can offer rehabilitation, mentorship and opportunities to help transition back to civilian life. Establishing these programs so people can receive the necessary mental health support is vital to keeping our communities prosperous and violence off the streets.”