Rochester police hand out ‘books and bears’ after shooting

Monroe County

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester police say that with an unprecedented spike in violence across the city, it’s more important than ever to continue community outreach.

During a shooting on Weld Street, in late June, a photographer at NEWS10’s sister station in Rochester tweeted a short video of Lt. Steve Swetman passing out books and stuffed animals to a frightened youngster:

The video, which received thousands Twitter views, shows Swetman passing out the goods to help ease nerves during tense scenes. “We’ve been responding to many violent acts lately. A lot of shootings, a lot of stabbings and violence … and these kids are around it.”

Around 30 police officers were on the scene, with a lot of lights and sirens. Swetman doesn’t doubt many in the neighborhood were upset, particularly a kid like this. “Mom told me he was shaken up, and as we were talking, it didn’t even click. It took about two minutes and I said ‘I’ve got the books and bears in my trunk,'” says Swetman.

The books and bears from the Browncroft Community Church. They wanted to give the Rochester Police Department these tools to help youngsters cope with these difficult situations.

Adam Divincentis with the Police Locust Club says this small act is huge. “A lot of our members just go out and try to put that little extra effort in, it’s not something the community often sees.”

Swetman saying he hopes these acts make a difference in the community. He knows at least with this exchange, it did. “He lit up a little bit, he did,” adding, “Whether it makes an impact for the rest of their life, or just helps them out for the next 15 to 20 minutes, it’s better than nothing for sure.”

Swetman has been on the force for 15 years.

This First Responders Spotlight segment from WROC in Rochester is brought to you by Bill Gray’s.

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