Rochester Police: C.E.R.T. program a ‘success’

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(ABC 6 News) – Over the past year, six volunteers from the community have been helping the Rochester Police keep the streets safe.

With the success of the program so far, the police department is looking for more help. The group is called CERT, the Community Engagement Response Team.

Every weekend, the group patrols the streets downtown until the early hours of the morning. Police say it is not only reduced the number of calls for service, but it reduces the police department’s workload.

"It’s really helped in building the relationships, we see when we are out there together, we all become more approachable, we all humanize each other I think in a lot of ways. We really just feel much more a part of the community when we are surrounded by community partners that are helping us solve serious problems in the community," said Capt. Jeff Stilwell | Community Engagement Team, Rochester Police Dept.

Besides patrolling the streets, CERT volunteers are able to help the community with solving problems that might not need police response, like helping someone with food support.

"It’s a model I think that you haven’t seen in a lot of other places, Again, there are many programs that are government driven, but those haven’t always worked in a lot of communities, this is community driven and we’re just sort of partners, we collaborate in the work," Stilwell said.

Right now, police are working to provide a small stipend to volunteers for helping keep the city safe. The overall goal is to bring in six more volunteers and move from downtown into neighborhoods.