Rochester Police Department sends letters to gang members

Posted at: 03/18/2013 2:29 PM
Updated at: 03/18/2013 5:30 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren

The Rochester Police Department says they have a new way of doing business when it comes to gangs in the city. The chief is sending out letters to known gang members letting them know the police department knows who they are and will not tolerate continued gang violence.  But will the letters actually make the streets safer?

Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard said the truth is not everyone will heed the advice in these letters. He fully admits some will get this letter and simply throw it away. But it's just another way to try and reach out to the violent groups in our city and let them know the police department is watching their every move and the senseless violent shootings must end.

The chief won't tell us how many letters he's sent out, but Chief Sheppard says in the letter, “I am sure you are aware of the intensified law enforcement activity focused on you, your friends, or others close to you. I would like to explain why this has happened and what must take place for it to stop."
The chief adds that the city of Rochester has been plagued for too many years with firearm violence and he knows the problem has to do with gangs or groups. He says from now on, when a shooting victim is found on the street, the police department will not only aggressively pursue the actual shooter, but also the entire group. He hopes those who get the letters will pass along the message.

Chief James Sheppard said, “We want them to know we know who the groups are, we want them to know we know who the members are, we want them to know we know who are the violent ones in those groups and again, our focus will be on the violent groups. We're going to focus on their friends, the people closest to them.”

Chief Sheppard said  they obviously need to catch people in the act before they can be arrested and even if they aren't doing anything illegal right now, the chief wants them to be aware that if ever they do, the police are watching.

The letter isn't the only method the police department is using to try and stop the gang violence right. The chief says he will also be sending his officers out to talk to the parents, grandparents, and friends of those involved in gangs.  He hopes that if he can't get through to those who are being violent. maybe their family members can.

Click here to read the letter the Rochester Police Department sent out