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Lights, Cameras, Cops To Combat Crime In City's Center


With two recent shootings as a catalyst, officials announced initiatives today to combat crime in downtown Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos said plans will be accelerated to put up more streetlights and  install surveillance cameras while additional police patrols will begin immediately in Chicopee Center, where police said Tuesday a gang war over drug trafficking and turf is taking place.

"This is a situation that we feel needs to be addressed and addressed now to make our downtown as hospitable to people who are law abiding and inhospitable to those who are not," said Kos as he announced the initiative at a City Hall press conference.

Kos said two surveillance cameras will be installed immediately and he plans to ask the city council next week to authorize $200,000 for the purchase and installation of nine more cameras.  The Chicopee Electric Light Co. has identified where new street lights are needed.  The police department will use budgeted overtime for extra patrols.

Two people were wounded in separate shootings in Chicopee Center earlier this month. Both shootings were reported around 9:30 in the evening.  Two 19-year-old Springfield men have been arrested in connection with one of the shootings.

Chicopee Police Chief William Jebb said gangs with members as young as 13 are active in Chicopee and the plan is to drive them out of the downtown area.

" We are taking a zero tolerance, a proactive,and hotspot policing approach," said Jebb. " We are going to target our resources to make these gangs feel unwelcome."

Jebb said the local police will seek assistance from the U.S DEA and a regional law enforcement task force that specializes in countering gang activity.

Police at Tuesday’s announcement also appealed for the public’s help to alert police to suspected criminal activity and provide information such as descriptions of vehicles and license plate numbers.

Chicopee Police Public Information Officer Michael Wilk said the information can be passed to the police anonymously.

"  If you have any information about crimes in Chicopee you can text ' CRIMES' on your cellphone and put ' Solve Chicopee' and then the information," said Wilk.

Mayor Kos and Chief Jebb met with about two dozen downtown business owners and residents Monday to discuss the public safety initiatives before making the public announcement.

Chicopee Chamber of Commerce President Eileen Drumm, who helped organize the meeting, said she is encouraged by the city’s immediate response.

"A lot of things were  under the radar and unfortunately it took two back-to-back shootings for the community to  say ' we really have a problem here'," said Drumm.  " The response has been swift."

Drumm said the chamber is offering the police department a vacant office space to use as a downtown substation, but the police have not yet accepted the offer.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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