RPD highlights ‘violence disruption task force’ amid high crime, shootings across U.S.

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(ABC 6 News) – With a spike in shootings across the country, the Rochester Police Department held a press conference Thursday to share how it is ramping up its efforts to prevent crime in the Med City. Rochester Police Department said there has not been a big increase in the number of shootings in Rochester, but they know gun violence is always a concern for people living here.

So far this year Rochester has had 11 shootings. In total, there were 23 shootings in 2021.

This task force included members from the patrol, investigative and intel divisions to help bring those numbers down.

"It’s important to point out that the violent crimes that we’re seeing here there’s oftentimes a relationship involved. The parties are known to each other. And there is a strong nexus to narcotics and drug activity," Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said.

In recent years, Olmsted County has been designated as a high-density drug traffic area, one of just a handful in the state of Minnesota.

"We’re not seeing these random acts of violence which is good, but we are addressing the violent crimes that we are seeing in front of us," Franklin said,

Franklin said in the last couple of weeks alone, eight arrests have been made and the execution of three search warrants led to seven guns being seized off our streets.

"Most of what we contact criminals with during arrest on scene is a concealed handgun," Patrol Capt. Aaron Penning said.

RPD said it is working proactively to go after guns in our community. The department has seized 23 guns so far this year. Last year in total the department seized 43.

Pictures of firearms that have been taken off of the streets in Rochester in recent weeks were shown at the press conference on Thursday. Law enforcement officials said most of the guns they have seized are stolen or illegally purchased. Some are also ghost guns, which are privately made, unregulated guns that anyone can buy without a background check because they do not have a serial number and are untraceable.

"Like the deep part near The Gates and sometimes in The Gates depending what’s going on. I heard about that one. Was not expecting that," Rochester resident Dylan Hamersma said.

Hamersma was referring to the shooting last week at the Gates, a location he said is known to residents as a high-crime area in the city.

"This I think is where we as the police department and the public can really come together and collaborate. The people that live there, they’re familiar with who belongs there and who doesn’t. They’re familiar with what’s suspicious and what’s not," Chief Franklin said.

RPD works with management over at the Gates and other various apartment complexes across the city and said community partnership is key to reducing crime.

"If you commit a violent act in this community, you are our priority and we are very proactively going to respond to these incidents to make this community safer," Franklin said.

Franklin added that the addition of the Community Engagement Response Team, or CERT, along with RPD’s Safe City Nights have helped move the city in the right direction by preventing crime in our neighborhoods.