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UCLM Wants Better Relations Between Community and Police

By Tyronda James

Local coalition address community, policing, and upcoming summit. Photo by Tyronda James/Minority Reporter Media Group.

United Christian Leadership Ministry (UCLM) has been busy lately organizing its 5th year summit as well as the recent proposal of its Rochester Community Public Safety Corps initiative.

At a recent press conference, Wednesday, Rev. Lewis W. Stewart, President of UCLM announced updates of the upcoming Community-Police Summit in conjunction with the Greater Rochester Community Police Initiative scheduled May 20 – 21. 

The theme is “Moving Forward: Building Legitimate Community-Police Relationships” and is aimed at making a change and building relations between community and police.

“Let’s be honest, many black, Latino, and white citizens do not view law enforcement as legitimate,” Rev. Stewart said. “Many are calling for the funding or abolishment of the police, UCLM advocates for the reallocation of resources. We feel that the Rochester community is over policed and we must do what is right on behalf of the citizens of Rochester.”

He said there is a lack of confidence in law enforcement and the summit will provide an opportunity for the community to speak truth to criminal justice personnel and leading community change makers.

Stewart said he and keynote speaker, former Deputy Mayor of Rochester, Dr. Cedric Alexander will also be informing the community of the police reform  recommendations coming from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203.

“The outcome we look to is moving forward to implementing police recommendations to ensure that justice is obtainable for all victims and their families,” said Rev. Stewart. “And point out that there are law enforcement executives able to meet the challenge of systemic transformation within their departments and agencies.”

Stewart said he wants to make sure that the recommendations that were created and developed are followed through and implemented.

“We just don’t want a blue ribbon commission,” Stewart said.

Registration and reports from the summit can be found on UCLM’S Facebook page.

Last week UCLM, proposed the three-year program called the Rochester Community Public Safety Corps.  The initiative, if approved by City officials, Stewart said would benefit the community in many ways and is about the reallocation of funds from RPD and investing back into the community. 

The project would have a staff of about 35 uniformed Corps members and target one quadrant of the city. Corps members would engage in a multifaceted approach including mediation, de-escalation, conflict resolution and an advocate for law enforcement assisted diversion.

Stewart said police culture must be dismantled in its present state. “Law enforcement is divided and is alien from the community. “The police are supposed to protect yet, we know three times as many African Americans are killed by law enforcement than whites, systemic racism must be eradicated from police policies, procedures and training,” he said.

“We also observed that whenever law enforcement intervenes conflicts usually arise between Black and Brown citizens and the police tend to escalate incidents and situations. Often these encounters result in excessive force or a loss of life.”

He said that this proposal will reduce needless negative police interactions with the public, reduce arrest and minimize service calls. 

“We looked at the fact that there needs to be another presence in the community besides the police. And, I don’t even want to call it policing. What we call it is peacemaking. That’s what they would be doing, making peace in our community, intervening in situations in which you don’t need to police,”  Stewart said.

“And so the question is: we need a model and this is the model where we can introduce an alternative to law enforcement that will bring peace into our community.”