Upstate New York Republicans on Tuesday called for expanding resources to bolster public safety and curtail crime amid concerns over shootings and violent crime. 

The lawmakers, who represent the Rochester area, also called for more support for mental health treatment facilities and a study of how poverty and criminal justice law changes may contribute to the issue. 

“We must do more to support our members of law enforcement, who are on our streets every day protecting the neighborhoods we live in," said Republican Assemblyman Josh Jensen. "We must listen to them on the ways to stop the violence, get dangerous individuals behind bars, and give them the resources they need to do their job for all those that call New York home."

Voters in New York in recent public polling have ranked crime and public safety concerns as top issues of them amid the election year. A rise in violent crime last year amid the ebbs and flows of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to calls from Democrats to better tackle gun violence and crack down on the flow of illegal firearms into New York. 

But Republicans have also pointed to criminal justice law changes that advocates have supported in Albany, including largely ending cash bail requirements for many criminal charges. State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul this year agreed to measures expanding the circumstances in which cash bail is required before remanding a person to jail. 

"It's exceedingly important that we allow parole officers to have all the tools they need," said Rep. Marjorie Byrnes. "This is what they're trained for, in order to make sure parolees are safe and they're abiding by the rules and that the rest of the members of society can also sleep well at night knowing that they are being supervised appropriately and not running loose on the streets."

Hochul in recent days has also called on judges to have a better understanding of the law and when bail is required. Hochul has also pointed to crime data showing no correlation between the changes and the rise in violent crime in New York and elsewhere in the country.  

Nevertheless, Republicans in recent weeks have also backed calls from Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams to hold a special session on the issue. 

“Our state’s communities continue to bear the brunt of the damage inflicted by the slew of criminal-friendly reforms pushed through by the legislative majorities since 2019,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley. “These reforms have constrained judges, undermined the ability of law enforcement to maintain law and order, disregarded the safety of victims and witnesses and discouraged the reporting of crimes — further emboldening criminals and threatening public safety. The time has come to return to Albany for a special session to remedy this mess and restore judicial discretion before more innocent people get hurt."