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Capital Region News

Troy Officials Tackle Crime

As gun violence continues to plague Troy, city officials are once again urging residents to do their part to stop the bloodshed.

In the spring of 2014, Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia and Police Chief John Tedesco were trying to convince concerned citizens that the gunfire and arson-plagued city was safe: they linked ongoing criminal activity to two rival gangs.    "These actions will not be tolerated, and we will do everything in our power to end this apparent pattern of violence." "I guarantee you that if there's another shooting or something that erupts in violence, we are going to have ample officers to react to that very aggressively and very expeditiously."

With 10 shootings and counting since the beginning of the year, Rosamilia offered words of reassurance.  "In order to assure our current families and businesses, as well as visitors, families who are considering putting down roots in Troy, that they will be safe at home here in the city of Troy, we must, and I emphasize we must end this pattern of violence."

Tedesco outlined a plan of action:  "There will be money for overtime, intelligence measures, investigators."

Tedesco tried to mitigate residents’ fears.  "These people are not concerned directly with you or I, but when you have the shooting of innocent bystanders, then there's precautions that have to be taken."

Fast forward to August 2015: With 70 shootings and still counting over the last 21 months, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed indictments against 20 alleged members and associates of the Young Gunnerz, a notorious gang officials called the largest provider of cocaine, heroin, and illegal prescription drugs in Troy.  Police chiefs in Troy and Albany believed at the time that the fall of the Young Gunnerz would curb street violence in both cities.

But after two shootings hours apart this week, a news conference called by Troy officials Thursday made it apparent the violence hasn’t ended. Here's deputy police chief Richard McAvoy speaking on Time Warner Cable News:  "A few weeks ago, with Project Trojan Horse, we eliminated a lot of the people that were actively involved in this violence. Unfortunately, when you eliminate those people, drug dealers, the guys that are running the gangs, it's like a job opening. People see opportunity and they try to step in. First thing they want to do is they want to pump up their reputation by being violent, by threatening people, and they're gonna fill that role and they try to step in. If there's a power vacuum, somebody's gonna fill it."

Councilman Jim Gordon, the Republican candidate for mayor, says residents have had enough. "Realistically, in my opinion, they had a press conference about nothing. But the one thing that was mentioned is that they're gonna continue to reach out into the community and meet and talk with the people that are involved in this violent crime and ask them to stop. No new initiatives were discussed at the press conference. No direction was given. The only thing that was provided at the press conference was a reassurance from the mayor that public safety is number one and we will not allow this type of behavior to continue to occur. But this behavior has continued to occur, time after time, and the policies that are in place, the enforcement mechanisms or tactics, obviously they're not working and we need to step up our game.  We have asked, we've called on them to do so, and it continues to fall on deaf ears. We are losing our neighborhoods block by block. People are scared. People are nervous. People are selling their homes. People are relocating their families and renting properties elsewhere. Because the violence seemingly continues to go unchecked."

For months several activist groups have tried to work with police and Mayor Rosamilia, who is not seeking another term, with little to show for their efforts.  A #TakeBackTroy movement, briefly popular on social media, accomplished what vigils and community meetings tend to do: attract a recurrent sample of good-minded people who have little power to influence change.

Rosamilia is asking residents who see suspicious activity or witness possible crime to call the detectives line at 518-270-4426.

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