The day after a shooting and two stabbings in the city of Albany, the mayor and police chief held a news conference to discuss a "crime surge."
"My message is this. And that is that the crimes that we have seen and the violent crime that we have seen over the last couple of months, few months, has been particularly directed at individuals who have a beef with one another. And picking up a knife or a gun to solve a dispute is the worst decision that you can possibly make." Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan stood alongside Acting Police Chief Robert Sears, who says 60 gun arrests have been made in Albany year-to-date as opposed to 36 during the same period last year. He’s urging citizens wishing to come forward with information about any crime to speak with a beat officer, call the detective hotline, or use the city's anonymous online tip form. "I can't promise an arrest in every case, but I will guarantee that every resource and opportunity will be utilized to make the violence stop."
Sheehan and Sears recounted their best efforts and social programs to maintain law and order, among them: Sears pointed out "Our Violent Offender Identification Director or VOID list allows us to identify members of the community that are at most risk for being shot or becoming a shooter. With this information we engage those individuals and attempt the trajectory that they are on. This can be in the form of getting the person a job or arresting them. We've had success both ways." But chief and mayor expressed concern about the recent uptick in crime. They haven’t found a link between the incidents, so far ruling out drugs and gangs.
Sheehan said "When we look across the city we need to now be looking at what is leading somebody who, for example, is at a barbecue, celebrating Father's Day, is leading them to choose to pick up a gun in order to settle a dispute or a fight. That's the type of behavior that we have seen and we've seen it can lead to obviously tragic tragic consequences." Sears added "Our recent incidents have been personal incidents have been personal disputes amongst people. And most of the victims had very little exposure to the criminal justice system. These factors make it much more difficult to predict who our next victim will be or who the suspect will be or what area of the city it will occur."
Sixth Ward Common Council member Richard Conti was out in the Hamilton Street neighborhood speaking with residents after a Sunday morning incident in which two men were shot. "We have been consistently been talking with the police about the level of activity in that neighborhood with the concentration of late-night establishments in the Hamilton-Lark-Madison area. The need for better late-night patrols that will help with some of the potential issues that might happen so that's conversation we continue to have, we are having now, and will continue to have in the next few days."
Sears says plan to continue to connect with the community through neighborhood meetings and outreach programs such as popup barbecues. "We are gonna be through the mayor's office developing a broader, a wider city meeting to talk about violence in general and different things that we can do to try to stop some of the violence and listen to the concerns of the community."
Sears emphasizes "if you see something, say something."