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Feds: VIPER Task Force Makes Arrests in Rochester and Buffalo

Patti Singer

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announces VIPER task force July 7 in Rochester. File photo

More than a dozen defendants may face federal prosecution after the first two weeks of a federal violence prevention effort in Rochester and Buffalo.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr., who held a news conference in Rochester July 7 to announce the Violence Prevention and Elimination Response (VIPER) task force, announced the statistics through July 22:

  • total arrests – 138
  • firearm-related arrests – 45
  • narcotics-related arrests – 45
  • violent felony arrests – 38
  • total illegal firearms seized – 22
  • defendants adopted for federal prosecution – 15 (with 21 additional defendants currently under review for federal prosecution).

“All residents in both Rochester and Buffalo deserve, and are entitled, to feel safe in their own homes,” Kennedy said in a news release announcing the data.

Statistics were combined. Data for Rochester alone were not supplied.

“Our efforts are designed to remove the worst of the worst from the streets of our communities, and the guns from their hands, so that residents can do just that,” he said. “The tremendous coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement combined with the outstanding cooperation we have received from the community have combined thus far to produce some pretty remarkable results.”

Kennedy is holding a listening session at 10 a.m. July 27 at REOC, 161 Chestnut St., to hear from residents about their concerns related to violence.

VIPER includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

A week into the VIPER effort, Mayor Lovely Warren was asked about its effectiveness.

“I’m thankful that we have this partnership with the federal government to get the most violent offenders off the street,” she said.

Warren said Rochester Police had made three arrests, and she said residents have said they want safety to be a priority.

“Whether it’s our Pathways to Peace team or our police department, our community affairs bureau, really knocking on doors and, and working with the community, the (interim police) chief has said several times that this is a community wide effort,” Warren said. “It’s not just the police department alone. It has to be in partnership. And so we will continue to work collectively together, both the community and our government, to ensure that our most violent offenders are held accountable and off of our streets … .”