By Miguel Lopez
Mayor-Elect Malik Evans held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the city’s rates of gun violence and other issues, as his administration looks forward to his swearing in on the 1st of January. He will replace James Smith, who will take over as Mayor after Mayor Lovely A. Warren’s resignation will see her leave office on December 3rd.
“I want folks to know, even though I am not sworn in yet, we are hard at work on trying to tackle these issues so we can turn the switch on day 1,” Evans said.
Evans told reporters that he met with several local leaders to discuss the countering of the high rates of gun violence in Rochester, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the New York State Police, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter, Interim Rochester Police Chief David Smith, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley and former Rochester Police Chief Cedric Alexander.
Evans said he has not selected a new Police Chief yet but says the interim police chief will continue to serve him until a new one is selected. He mentioned that senior appointments will be announced in waves in the next coming weeks, and that he has never advocated for mayoral control of the RCSD, which just received a vote of “no confidence” from the Rochester Teachers Association regarding their reopening plan.
Despite one of the deadliest years of shootings and homicides in Rochester’s history, Mayor-elect Evans remained optimistic in Rochester’s future, and has asked for the entire community to come together to help eliminate violence in Rochester. Rochester is at 74 homicides this year and statistics across the country show that gun violence is on the rise.
“We cannot do this alone. I want everyone to understand, it’s not just law enforcement, is not just Malik Evans, it’s the community we have to be able to inspire,” Evans said.
“How do we have to make sure people feel safe and want to come forward when they see something. If they don’t feel safe, they’re not going to cooperate, then we won’t be able to get the bad guys off the street, or someone who might be carrying an illegal gun.”
When asked what a long-term solution to violence looked like, he said that the first step would be stopping the bleeding, but also focusing on long term solutions. He also announced a special advisory position that will focus solely on violence reduction.
“So, how do we work with all our levels of government to choke off and identify individuals who are creating most of the havoc in our city, and I can tell you there’s only a small percentage of people that are doing it. But we have to make sure that we go after and target those people and get them off the streets, and if it’s not that, give them the resources that they need in order to not decide to do something that they can’t take back. So that’s one end, but on the other end is, as you know.”
Evans said he looks to long-term solutions, making sure there is an increase in job training programs, as well as providing people with the social, emotional, economic support in order to make them not go down a path of violence.
I had the chance to ask Mayor-Elect Evans if he thought that the number of homicides in Rochester would be higher in 2022 given the increase of resources that Rochester Police D is expected to acquire after Warren’s state of emergency was called. He told me; “My hope is that they decrease, but hope is not a plan… My hope is that we will see a decrease in homicides next year, but it won’t happen unless the community participates,” Evans said.
“My hope is that they decrease, but hope is not a plan… My hope is that we will see a decrease in homicides next year, but it won’t happen unless the community participates.”