Led by Special Advisor to the Mayor Victor Saunders, the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) implements a centralized strategy of violence reduction programs, and OVP coordinates partnerships to advance violence prevention across the city of Rochester, NY. In addition to staffing City violence prevention and intervention initiatives, OVP also collaborates with community-based organizations and agencies working to end violent crime.
The Office of Violence Prevention includes (click to expand each item):
Pathways to Peace is a street-level team that provides support and nonviolent alternatives for youth who are resorting to violence to settle disputes or become involved in gangs and drugs. The members of the Pathways to Peace team are available to help safeguard the lives of these youth, diffuse potentially violent situations, and help young people get on a track to a better life.
Pathways to Peace staff operate directly in city neighborhoods to make personal, visible connections with youth. They can offer prevention services for disputes that might arise, intervention services for current and ongoing disputes, and stay in touch with youth through situations. Pathways responds to crime scenes and attends events where city youth are present.
For more information on Pathways to Peace, visit this website.
In the news: Pathways to Peace promotes hope amid violence
The City of Rochester’s Reentry program is designed to help break the cycle of recidivism and intergenerational incarceration.
The City’s Reentry Coordinator provides those who are returning to city neighborhoods from the Criminal Justice System with the critical resources and services necessary to navigate and transition from prison to a life of freedom. The team works with other reentry agencies to prevent individuals from reoffending and re-engaging in criminal activity.
The program offers a holistic approach addressing the various concerns previously incarcerated residents and former criminal offenders have in returning to friends, family or neighborhoods that may have had a negative impact on their life choices. The program addresses conflict-resolution skills, housing, addiction counseling, employment opportunities, and how to build positive relationships.
The Advance Peace – Peacemaker Fellowship program is an urban gun violence disruption strategy that works to end cyclical and retaliatory gun violence by investing in the development, health and wellbeing of young people who are at the center of the violence crisis. The program has identified up to four Neighborhood Change Agents who provide transformational opportunities to mentees called City Fellows, using the Advance Peace model, to break the cycle of gun hostilities.
The Neighborhood Change Agents, or trusted community insiders, are individuals with backgrounds that include lethal firearms offenses, previous incarceration, gang involvement, or other high-risk activities who have turned their life around and demonstrate a positive lifestyle.
The program is being piloted in the 10th Ward of the City of Rochester, which includes the Lake Avenue Section of the Rochester Police Department.
The Rochester Peace Collective is a collaborative effort that guides investments from local funding organizations into innovative and proven programs that work to prevent violent crimes. The Peace Collective aligns closely with the City of Rochester’s Mayor’s Office, Department of Recreation and Human Services, and Rochester Public Library to advance violence prevention by collaborating with community-based organizations and agencies working in the fields of re-entry and violence prevention.
The investments of the Peace Collective support trauma-informed, social-emotional health programming, as well as prioritizing re-entry services, job training and preparation, meditation and conflict resolution, youth development and mental health support, the arts, and other approaches.
The City has committed $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to advance these efforts.
On December 1, 2022, 19 human-service organizations were selected to serve as charter members of the Rochester Peace Collective and bring a coordinated approach to community-based anti-violence programming. For more information about the Rochester Peace Collective, visit this website.
The mission of the Office of Neighborhood Safety is to establish and implement a community-based intervention and prevention strategy to help combat violence in the City of Rochester. It serves as a central hub to coordinate a community-wide Violence Reduction Strategy that will guide public and private sector investments in social programs including those administered by Pathways to Peace, the ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition, and the Youth Advocate Program.
The Office of Neighborhood Safety is responsible for the Community-Wide Neighborhood Safety Plan and oversight of the Mayor’s Peacemaker Fellowship, which identifies city residents with a high likelihood of becoming victims of gun violence and enroll them as Fellows in a rigorous personal development program that includes mentorships, peer-to-peer learning, education, and explorations of careers and life goals. The Peacemaker Fellowship is based on a program in Richmond, California that contributed to significant reductions in homicides and gun violence.