About 50 community members gathered at at Whitmore’s International Barbershop on Monroe Avenue to talk candidly with Rochester’s Mayor and Police Chief on Tuesday.
Among their concerns: creating more vocational opportunities for residents, building trust between the community and law enforcement and keeping young kids off city streets through a stronger desire for education.
"To have a bunch of kindergartners being absent, you know, from school. that says a lot about the parents," says Alfred Smith, a 40-year Rochester resident and former city school educator. "These kindergartners are going develop habits and partners that are going to affect them for the rest of their lives. They’re going to be the future community. So it's going to be the repeat of a cycle."
Smith says the lack of education and home support can lead to youth later hanging out on city streets. Others offered suggestions to help youth on the right path. That's as an 18-year old man said his "head is empty" and Rochester needs more "hands-on" opportunities for him remain productive and out of trouble. The young man has been working for local Wax Shop, who's owner is struggling to stay open.
"It's just an opportunity for people to express themselves and tell us the things that they saw that we could do better," Sheppard says. "I think a lot of it isn't just putting all on the police department or on City Hall. It's about us working as a community. I think that is where we're going to see success, and I think we're starting to see success."
Sheppard says he's taking the community's input to help improve the police department and the community.