LONSBERRY: Rochester's 'State Of Emergency' Is A Lot Of Nothing


When is a state of emergency not a state of emergency?

               When it’s being run by Lovely Warren and the Rochester City Hall.

               After being dramatically introduced on Friday, in response to record-breaking violence in the city, the joint state-city “state of emergency” turns out to be not very much at all. Certainly not enough to turn a tide which has seen seven people killed over a run of three recent days.

               The background is this: A demoralized and depleted police department, hectored by activists and politicians, has proven ineffective in the face of a nation-leading upturn in deadly violence. The old homicide record, which held for some 30 years, got knocked aside and the bodies kept stacking up.

               It was horrifying.

               And nobody really did or said anything. Not anything of substance and specificity.

               Four teen-agers shot down in a drive-by. Another teen-aged girl hit in a separate drive-by. Some guy sitting in a car in the parking lot of a popular restaurant gets killed by crossfire that had nothing to do with him.

               It was a steady, year-long drumbeat of lawlessness.

               And then came Friday, and all sorts of uniforms and all sorts of promises. We were going to pray about it and fight against it and give it our best effort.

               What a relief.

               Until the dust settled, and you could count noses, and learn the details.

               Then it wasn’t such a relief. Then it looked more like a con job.

               Here’s the sum and substance of what’s happening: Up to four deputies will patrol one stretch of one Rochester street during school hours, and between four and six additional troopers and deputies will be assigned to the U.S. Marshal’s felony warrant task force.

               Period. That’s it. That’s the cavalry coming to the rescue. Something like 10 extra cops, with four of them patrolling a street that doesn’t pass through either of Rochester’s most dangerous neighborhoods, and the others attached to a useful but low-profile detail that doesn’t do routine direct-contact policing.

               Why is it that way?

               Because that’s all the city will accept.

               I’m sorry, because that’s all the city’s mayor will accept.

               The governor, for her part, directed the superintendent of State Police to give Rochester whatever it asked for. As many troopers as were needed, the governor authorized their deployment. No questions asked, do whatever is necessary.

               New York has more than 5,000 state troopers, and the city of Rochester has agreed to let two of them come help in the city, above routine levels. Two. Or maybe three. But no more than four.

               Out of 5,000.

               That’s how Lovely says: “I don’t give a damn about the people of this city.”

               And that’s what turns this entire charade into a joke. Another promise made, but certainly not kept.

               Yes, the marshal’s task force is an excellent outfit, and it has picked up three accused murders in the last 24 hours. But enlarging it by two deputies and two to four troopers is not to truly enlarge it. It is to offer lip service.

               Further, the sheriff’s department patrol of a stretch of Dewey Avenue looks like it primarily provides protection to Aquinas Institute, a mostly white and mostly suburban private school what has been almost wholly untouched by Rochester’s year-long violence surge. Benefit to the city-dwelling people of color who have been right in the homicide spree’s bullseye seems to be negligible and secondary.

               And that’s what City Hall is doing.

               It is continuing its war on the Rochester Police Department, a war that churns out casualties in a horrifying fashion. Anti-police political sentiment in City Hall is how Rochester came to be in this mess in the first place. When you get rid of the sheep dogs, the wolves come prowling, and right now they run Rochester. That’s why this city is, on a per capita basis, the most dangerous place in America.

               That’s Lovely’s legacy, and that is Rochester’s curse. A curse that hangs now over the heads of families who fear for their sons and daughters, families whose cries for help go unanswered by a police department that is perpetually in the crosshairs of moronic politicians and conniving activists.

               Which leaves us where we are – which is nowhere.

               The state of emergency is too little too late, and a mockery of the genuine need that aches in the hearts of Rochester families.

               It is a joke.

               And that is a crime.

               And it is all Lovely Warren’s fault.


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