Friday's event was the third Project T.I.P.S. event of the summer. T.I.P.S. is an ancronym for trust, information, programs and services. Gary Mervis is the Chairman of the Project Exile Advisory Board and helped start the Project T.I.P.S. in 2008. "It's an effort to try to improve the trust between the people that live in many of these communities and those men and women which are charged with their public safety," he said.
When that trust breaks down, Sheppard said it becomes harder to keep the peace. "A lot of times the violence that we see in the city, it continues due to the fact that people don't tell us who's involved," he said.
Sheppard's frustration with that reality came across in a YouTube video he released. During the recorded message he said, "When homicide involves black on black violence, it seems no one cares enough to get involved."
Friday Sheppard discussed his assertion. "My outcry was that they should be involved, the solution isn't just the Rochester Police Department," he said. "We all have a hand in this and asking them to come and be a part of that."
Sheppard said another problem is people attempting to take matters into their own hands. "A lot of the violence that we have is retaliatory, where someone is shot, injured, cut, and rather than work with the Rochester Police Department to address it, they'll go out and say, they'll tell us, I'm not telling you what happened, I'll take care of it myself and that violence just continues to perpetuate," he said.
Project T.I.P.S. is an opening for residents to improve their own neighborhoods, and Sheppard's support is important. "It kind of makes him one of us instead of, he's way up there, where he's accessible," said Rochester's Prudence Anderson Leusch.
Rochester City Councilman Dana Miller, who lives in the Aberdeen Park neighborhood, echoed that sentiment. "It is important for people to really view the police as their support service, not somebody to be afraid of," he said.
One more Project T.I.P.S. event is planned for September 28 at School 33 on Webster Road.