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Newburgh Police Seek City Council Support After Ambushes

Hank Gross

Responding to two instances of mob violence against police officers in just the past few days, the Newburgh Police Benevolent Association came out Tuesday with a demand for answers and action from the Newburgh City Council to protect its police force.

Among the issues brought up by Teamsters Local 445 Principal Officer Adrian Huff was an insufficiently staffed department, especially at night.

"This department operates with two police officers at night. If an arrest is made it may take several hours to process that arrest. In the meantime, the streets of Newburgh go unpatrolled," Huff said.  “Every day the council ignores these problems the officers are put at greater risk.   We implore Chief Ferrera and the city council to meet with the Teamsters and the PBA immediately to discuss solutions to quell the ongoing violence in the city.”

Huff said repeated requests to meet with the mayor and city council have been ignored.

It took officers from three departments to break up a mob at around midnight last Saturday, where three young men were arrested for attacking cops on scene. Just a day later, Monday night's end of the vigil for the death of Michael Lembhard – whose shooting death by police has sparked much of the violence this year – also ended with a group of angry citizens throwing bottles and rocks at officers, resulting in four being hospitalized and released Tuesday.

Huff called it "unconscionable" that Mayor Judy Kennedy and Councilman Cedric Brown were participating in the preceding heated rally.

Michael Pitt, a Newburgh city police officer and president of the PBA, works the midnight shift, and said they are in dire need of assistance.

"There's guys that have taken vacation; there are officers that are hurt. You know, we roll with two or three guys. We haven't hired anybody in almost five years. We had the threat of layoffs last year and the year before, so people instead of getting laid off go to other departments," said Pitt.

The mayor had planned to announce more details from Saturday's incident on Tuesday morning, but delayed until more information could be gathered and evaluated.