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Troy Police Chief Discusses Crime Spike With Council

Troy Police Chief Brian Owens speaks during a virtual meeting of the Troy City Council's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday
Lucas Willard
Troy Police Chief Brian Owens speaks during a virtual meeting of the Troy City Council's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday

Members of the Troy City Council this week questioned the police chief about the spike in violent crime in the Collar City. The discussion comes as the city prepares to add to its existing surveillance cameras in neighborhoods plagued by crime.

The City of Troy has experienced 22 shootings in 2020. Meeting with members of the Troy City Council Tuesday night, Police Chief Brian Owens said 59 shots were fired, resulting in 29 people shot and 13 homicides.

“Our department, we are still committed to the work we do and the people we serve. But that’s not to say that we’re not human and we’re not worn down,” said Owens.

Last week, the same day Troy police arrested a suspect in the drive-by shooting of 11-year-old Ayshawn Davis, two more shootings occurred. 17-year-old Tamari Rodriguez was killed by gunfire near Glen and 7th Avenue.

City Councilor Kim Ashe-McPherson told Owens she had met with Rodriguez’s mother prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

“They want and she wants more police presence in that area,” said Ashe-McPherson.

Owens said gun crime has been difficult to control in the area near where Rodriguez was killed.

“Within that few block radius, you know that we’ve had multiple shootings, several homicides to include when our officers have been on the block or within a block. So even just a mere presence of the police sometimes doesn’t serve as a deterrent any longer,” said Owens.

A portion of the discussion focused on cameras. The Troy City Council tonight will consider a measure to enter into a contract with a new vendor to upgrade its system of surveillance equipment, amid complaints of non-functioning cameras.

Owens cautioned that the cameras do not necessarily act as a deterrent.

“We’ve had crimes occur directly under very visible city cameras. They’re not hidden, they’re not covert. And so they can be useful after the fact, a lot of times, but if we can add to them and it does deter anything, then it’s worth it,” said Owens.

Discussing a convenience store located near where Rodriguez was killed at Glen and 7th, councilors asked Owens if there was a way to shut down the store, which they say has become a hot spot for crime.

Owens said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know if the police can necessarily shut down the store for such a reason. So we’d have to have further discussions on what that looks like or if there’s other steps that other agencies or departments can take,” said Owens.

Council President Carmella Mantello said she wants a task force to examine crime across the Capital Region. Gun violence is also spiking in Albany this year.

“I do believe that something very, just drastic, direct, targeted, enhanced…needs to happen in the Capital Region right now. Because it is a cycle,” said Mantello.

Owens explained that his department does work with neighboring communities.

“I think the crime is definitely connected. It crosses jurisdictional boundaries, there’s no question about that. That’s not to say that all the crimes occurring in Troy are necessarily caused by criminals in other cities or location,” said Owens.

City Councilor Jim Gulli asked Owens if the Troy Police Department would consider installing additional license plate readers at city gateways – currently Troy has such a reader on the Green Island bridge in partnership with the neighboring village.

“If at the county level they can bring funding and resources to make that happen, of course we fully support that. And I think it needs to be that next level of government. I don’t think the city can do all these projects on its own,” said Owens.

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