© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Relationship Between Police And Community In Focus At Crime Prevention Conference

Lucas Willard

In a time of tense relationships between urban communities and police, law enforcement officials from across New York gathered in Saratoga Springs to take part in a conference designed to reduce violent crime through community engagement.

As part of a two-day event hosted by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services at the Gideon Putnam resort in Saratoga Springs, more than 250 law enforcement professionals attended a conference on New York’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, or GIVE.

DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said the program helps upstate counties come together to hear from experts from national crime prevention organizations.

“The idea is to help the 17 counties, to have them hear from people who have done extensive work across the country on proactive strategies. Not just to get good at arresting more people or sending more people to prison, but to actually work proactively to say, ‘What can we do to reduce the homicides, reduce the shootings, and engage with the community to do this with the community.’”

The GIVE program targets 20 communities that account for 86 percent of the state’s violent crime outside New York City.

In a time of racial tension and protests following the grand jury decisions surrounding the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, Green said building community trust is an essential part of the training conference.

“Part of it is to have a mission and a vision from law enforcement that the community understands and can get behind and wants to be a part of, and I think clearly that’s part of the process in bringing law enforcement and communities together in healing some of the tensions and the divides that exist.”

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said one particular strategy discussed at the conference has the potential to reduce violence by having the police become more active in the community.

“I think the strategy of focused deterrence, that we’re going to be talking about today, where the police and prosecution basically show the community that we’re not there to arrest people and prosecute people, we’re there basically to save lives, and we’re there to help them with some of the problems. And by doing that, by focusing on the problems and some of the social issues, it shows them that we’re not there just to be law enforcement, just to be prosecutors,” said Hoovler.

Community tensions boiled over in Albany in December 2011 after a fatal officer-involved shooting downtown. Albany police chief Steven Krokoff reflected on the incident and said it’s imperative that in the wake of tragedy, police engage with community leaders.

“Having an open line of communication with your community and being able to communicate specifically with key stakeholders in your community who already have credibility is necessary when those things happen, and unfortunately, in urban environment those things happen.”

DCJS sponsored another law enforcement training event in Saratoga Springs in November, designed to help police recognize and assist officers and families cope with loss and mental illness.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
Related Content