YNN teamed up with the Voice of the Voter partners, WXXI, 13 WHAM-TV, WDKX and the Democrat and Chronicle to conduct the first of two polls with Siena Research leading up to Rochester's Democratic Mayoral primary.
On the issue of crime, we asked voters in the city about safety and the job Rochester police are doing. The poll also looks at which candidate is more qualified on the issue of public safety.
On a city street is where you'll find reality. Cold hard reality.
"It's very dangerous out here in Rochester. It's sad but true," said Jabbar Dastar.
He's seen it, firsthand.
"Art is expression to relieve depression. It saved me."
Seen it and heard it.
"You hear what you're hearing. That's all I hear all day," he said of the sirens. "I hope nobody got assaulted or shot. Anything under the sun."
And on a recent day:
"We went fishing, we got pulled over right down State and Lake."
The traffic stop, involving several police officers, resulted in no ticket or charge, But Jabbar says it one reason why, he feels, some in the community don't trust the police.
"I understand the cops got a job to do, because me being a Rochester resident all my life, it is bad out here."
On a recent Saturday night, seven people were shot. A 59-year-old man was killed. Days later, residents gathered to pray for him.
"It's not like TV. Nothing like TV. This is real life," said Mary Scott.
In a Voice of the Voter -YNN - Siena Research poll, we asked about the job police in Rochester have done to keep citizens safe. Eleven percent say the job is excellent. Good, 41 percent. Thirty-one percent give an answer of fair, and nine percent say poor.
"I don't think they will ever be satisfied just based on the fact that we have crime that occurs in the city," said Police Chief James Sheppard.
Sheppard responded to the poll's findings.
"I think the biggest thing we have to work on is the perception, and how people feel about how safe they are. You can never be victimized in your entire life, but if you're afraid of being victimized, that's a very stressful life to be living," Sheppard said.
"I mean, the community, we got to come together and stop this violence because there's too much of it going on. Innocent people getting killed," Scott said.
At the site where Rochester's latest murder took place, there's a sense that the police can only do so much. That socially, something needs to change.
"I just think the level of poverty is rising, and people get more and more desperate," said Gratia L'Esprance.
"What do you think's going to happen when you have all these kids running around, a 7th or 8th grade IQ, can't even read or write. All they know is to pick up a gun and take something," said Dastar.
Sheppard says getting people to cooperate with police investigations is an ongoing issue. He says it's one that often comes down to trust.
"No one wants to be a witness. No one wants to testify. No one wants to be considered an informant or a snitch," Sheppard said.
The Siena poll also asks voters which mayoral candidate in the upcoming Democratic primary would be better at fighting crime. Incumbent Tom Richards received 52 percent of the vote, challenger Lovely Warren, 24 percent. The same number were undecided.
"It's not about the politics. It's about trying to save people's lives. That's what it's about," Scott said.
Sheppard says a mayor can have impact, through policy: "I think it's a lot to do with the direction of the police department, what the expectations are. How the department goes about its business."
"I don't want to have to be afraid to come out of my home," Scott said.
Police have stepped up patrols in the areas where the shootings happened. Sheppard says their job is not just to enforce, but also engage the community.
It's been said it takes a village to raise a child. Too many children wind up on Jabbar's t-shirts.
"Really don't like doing them. I don't even charge the parents."
For him it all starts at home.
"What's the favorite slogan I always tell you?" he asked his 15-year-old son.
"You don't want me to be like you, you want me to be better than you.
Anything to prevent his own son from becoming another statistic.
"I don't want to see my son on no t-shirt, RIP, due to the hands of violence. I just don't want to do it."
Voice of the Voter YNN Siena Research Poll