Fifth in a series. The community organization I work for organized an issues forum with the three candidates running for Mayor of Syracuse. These highly subjective and biased ruminations on the candidate’s remarks (I have endorsed and volunteer for Stephanie Miner) are solely those of your humble blogger and may not be reproduced without the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball. Or if you buy me a nice present. Or if you ask nicely.
Here are the current perceptions of neighbors living in the south, southwest and near-west sides about the crime in their neighborhoods, even after all the efforts of concerned neighborhood residents, the current administration and the police department: Hundreds of drug houses and corners with open sales of illegal drugs; frequent gun shots; loitering gangs on corners and at vacant houses; poor or no response to 911 calls–especially to non-emergency/quality of life issues and to ANY issue on weekends; vandalism and property destruction; reckless driving and speeding–both cars and 2-3-4 wheeled motor bikes.
Two questions: First, please give us your definition of community policing. Second, as Mayor, how will you use your definition of community policing to make our neighborhoods safer?
Otis Jennings: Otis believes that real community policing would mean having a police force that builds realtionships with the neighbors and engages the community. Mr. Jennings believes that one way to deal with crime in our neighborhoods is to increase the number of police on the force. He mentioned that there is a class of potential officers currently undergoing training and that the incoming federal stimulus money will enable the city to start another class this coming year. He committed to maintaining the police force at this higher number of officers, even after the stimulus money has been used up in three years. Oh, and he feels our pain. Someone busted into his car and stole his GPS device while he was out campaigning.
Stephanie Miner: Stephanie believes that true community policing results when neighborhood residents have developed relationships with police officers that they know and trust. When this trust level increases, information is shared more freely and crimes are solved more easily. Too much emphasis on crime suppression has led to an atmosphere of fear and distrust of the police. Too many residents are unwilling to share information with police officers. In addition, Stephanie believes that the poor response time of the police is due to their traveling from call to call dispatched from 911. Ms. Miner believes the city could improve response times by using the kind of technology that will enable the police to better analyze crime data, systematically identify problem spots and more efficiently deploy police officers.
Steve Kimatian: Steve believes that community policing results when uniform police officers are working in a community on a regular basis–to the extent that they are known by residents as the neighborhood beat cop. Steve has an overarching philosophy of zero tolerance for what may be referred to as petty crimes: noise, parking trash. He wants to establish a baseline of order in the community, so that residents respect and maintain their property and neighborhood out of respect for their neighbors. Mr. Kimatian also has a five point crime program, but only discussed one point–a youth curfew. He believes that there are too many kids out late at night and they can be exploited by gangs. Steve acknowledged that not all kids can be taken home because of problems there, so he would invest in a counseling/service center where kids can be evaluated and referred to needed services.