To the Editor:

Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard’s “Cool Down” strategy raises serious civil liberties concerns. Police officers shouldn’t use minor offenses like loitering and bicycle bells as a pretext to stop and search people. This sort of aggressive policing won’t remove guns from the streets. It will almost certainly lead to racial profiling and rampant civil rights violations.

For years, the New York Police Department has used similarly heavy-handed tactics in New York City. Officers there stop and frisk hundreds of thousands of innocent people each year without justification. These abusive and unconstitutional stops, which disproportionally target black and Latino residents, recover very few illegal guns. (Last year, only 0.11 percent of stops produced a gun.) Instead, they increase tensions between police and the public.

The Rochester Police Department must reject this flawed approach. It ought to focus the “Cool Down” effort on partnering with residents to stop the gun violence, not subjecting them to unwarranted and humiliating police searches.

Tim Jennings
Board Member
Genesee Valley Chapter, New York Civil Liberties Union