Mayoral candidates square off in forum focused on public safety

Rochester Locust Club, Lexington Avenue (Photo: Rob Henry)

Rochester, N.Y. – Monday night, four candidates running for Rochester mayor took part in a forum at Rochester’s police union headquarters, focused on public safety.

Incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren, Democrats Rachel Barnhart and James Sheppard and Republican Tony Micciche all agreed at the Locust Club Monday night that the city has to do more when it comes to regaining the public’s trust.

Cases of excessive force and officer-involved shootings were some of the topics discussed at Monday’s forum. All four candidates agreed there is a need for officers to do more than just patrol the street. But they believe it’s all about the approach – from police presence and mentoring in schools, to dealing with staffing issues.

They were four candidates with four very different approaches, in a race for the city’s top job.

“I’m in favor of a new system,” said Barnhart. “I’m in favor of an independent investigator. I’m in favor of an independent panel. And I don’t think that the chief should be the final arbiter of these decisions.”

“Our response to 911 took us away from being able to engage people and get out of those cars,” said Sheppard. “And so I want us to be in a position where, yes, we have to answer the 911 calls, we have to have officers all over the city, but they also have to have the opportunity to stop, engage, talk to people and form good relationships.”

“Our officers do have a difficult job to do, and I believe they do, for the most part, a great job, and they have a lot of support,” said Warren. “But where there are challenges, and where there are ways in which we can correct ourselves, we are working on doing those things and we’re not above making sure we’re doing the right thing on behalf of our officers and our citizens.”

“I’ve come out with some innovative ideas,” said Micciche. “And that one of them is putting the police precincts in local high schools, like Charlotte, East, West and Franklin. And the reason why is because I want officers to build a relationship with those kids.”

Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said members of the police union will vote on who to endorse for this race. It’s a key element all candidates are hoping to earn.

Green Party candidate Alex White and registered "no party" candidate Lori Thomas are also running for mayor this year.

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