On Friday, Jan. 26, a double shooting occurred outside of a deli on the corner of Genessee and Congress Streets, located in the 19th Ward. The shootings, caused by an apparent argument, resulted in one death and one non-life-threatening wound to the leg. From the investigation undergone thus far, it seems that the shooting was an isolated episode. The incident is currently under further investigation by the Rochester Police Department.
Though this incident did not take place on University property, it raised questions of the safety of students who venture to the west side of the Genesee River. With the current and continuing construction of the Brooks Landing Project, the need to examine security in this area is becoming more necessary.
Presently, UR Security does not cover the area across the footbridge west of the Genesee River, as the University does not own it. However, if someone in the University community calls Security from this area, they will respond and provide the service requested. These services are generally covered only within one to two blocks away from the bridge, though Security has gone further in the past, according to Director of University Security Walter Mauldin.
However, as the Brooks Landing Project continues, Security is actively involved in making plans for safety once the construction is finished. “Inclusion of a security program is essential for the project,” Mauldin said.
Security will work with developers to determine the location of blue lights, cameras and alarm systems, along with plans to create clean sight lines to provide optimal visibility. There is also an interest in having a patrol function in that neighborhood, though how many Security members in the patrol is yet to be determined, according to Mauldin.
There has also been a great amount of discussion with the RPD about setting up a small office in the Brooks Landing area. This office would serve as a center for campus operations, as well as a satellite office for RPD to file reports, conduct interviews, hold business functions and do whatever else is needed.
“It is very important that we complement and support the city and the RPD,” Mauldin said.
Another cause of students’ concern with safety in the 19th ward is the location of the Chi Phi fraternity house, located on Genesee Street. Students often frequent this house on the weekends and some are now worried about the journey there.
CF president Brett Hapoienu stressed that safety consciousness is important for UR students and for any students living in a city.
“It is important to think and act safe in any city,” he said. “A guest’s awareness and good decision making, in addition to our brotherhood duties, serve to protect against any potential danger.” Brotherhood duties include stationing CF brothers at the footbridge on Friday nights to ensure a safe walk across.
Not only do CF brothers live on the west side of the Genesee River, but many other students and faculty members also live in the area in close proximity to the shootings.
“The 19th Ward is well regarded as a neighborhood rich in diversity,” Director of the Office for Residential Life Laurel Contomanolis said. “I lived there myself for many years and enjoyed the many different cultures, ages, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds of my neighbors. It is a very interesting place to live.”
Many groups in the College are looking to increase the safety in the areas surrounding campus.
“Our programming and philanthropy chairs are working with the police to sponsor a seminar on campus for ‘Off-Campus Safety’ within the next month or so, which we encourage students to attend,” Hapoienu said.
Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.