Posted at: 03/30/2013 11:13 AM
Updated at: 03/30/2013 11:23 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion
Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard and Mayor Tom Richards spent Saturday afternoon at a local barber shop, but they weren't there for haircuts.
On the heels of a violent week in the city, they held an open forum called "Shop Talk.”
The goal of the forum was to promote communication with members of the community in a place where they are used to speaking their mind.
Chief Sheppard and Mayor Richards created an open dialogue with residents who may not have had a chance to speak up about their concerns before.
For some, it's easy to get up in front of city officials and talk about real issues in their community, but the truth is, many residents don't. So they brought City Hall into the community.
The event was held at Masterpiece Unisex Barber Shop off of Dewey Avenue. It was not your traditional public forum, but the Mayor and the Police Chief say it was a perfect platform for an open discussion.
They got the chance to be one-on-one with the community and discuss problems throughout the area.
Some of the topics discussed on Saturday included drugs in the community, truancy and improving the community's relationship with police. Jobs, the city school system and helping kids were also big topics.
Members of the community say the visit meant a lot to them, especially since it was a holiday weekend.
Mayor Richards and Chief Sheppard say the event was an overall success.
“I think it's very important. A lot of times people don't think you know what the issues are and a lot of times they don't think that you care. By getting out there and showing your face, they see you do care,” said Chief Sheppard.
“In this environment, a wider spectrum of people can be comfortable. Some people are comfortable going downtown speaking to council and delivering a speech but los of people aren't. They sort of get drowned out or get left out. In this environment, anybody can sit in a barber shop, just sit around the room and talk about it and not be intimidated. I think for us we get a more balanced view of what's on people's minds,” said Mayor Richards.
This is something the Mayor and the Police Chief have been doing for years now and they say it's an effective take when it comes to communicating with the community.