Earlier this year, it was announced that Schenectady County had the highest per capita crime rate in New York. Now, officials are looking to curb that statistic with a new county-wide policing strategy.
In 2016 Schenectady County had 3,038 index crimes per 100,000 residents according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. That’s the highest rate in New York. By comparison, the statewide average rate is 1,904 per 100,000 residents.
Crime has been dropping slightly in recent years, and Schenectady County legislators are trying to continue that trend.
County legislator Rory Fluman, a Democrat, represents portions of Niskayuna, Glenville and Scotia.
“The county is just in a position to see if there’s anything we can do or anything we can support to combat crime,” said Fluman.
Fluman, along with County Legislative Chairman Anthony Jesinski, Legislator Tom Constantine, and Democratic Majority Leader Gary Hughes, is putting forward a plan to create a county-wide neighborhood crime initiative.
Called the Street Crime Interdiction Task Force, the $2 million initiative is included in the county manager’s 2018 budget proposal, which will be detailed this evening. The budget sets aside $1.2 million for the program, with $800,0000 in bonding for equipment.
Here’s how it would work:
A force of police officers from across communities in Schenectady County would be designated to the task force. One, maybe two, from a community. Then, those officers could be dispatched to help a community solve crime.
“And it might not even be one force, it could be two small forces,” said Fluman. “So, say one small force would work the weekend in Glenville and the other small force would be working in Niskayuna.”
Rotterdam police chief William Manikas supports the plan. Although details haven’t been finished, he gave an example of how the force would work.
“If there was as high incidence of one type of crime, let’s say burglaries, where it may be – whether it’s in the city or one of the towns – we could then direct this group of 10 to 15 officers to saturate that area based on the intelligence of the agency that’s investigating to better actually indentify suspects and terminate the further commission of these crimes.”
That’s because crimes, he says, like a string of burglaries, for example, do not often respect municipal boundaries.
In addition to giving a boost to departments when needed, through additional officers or equipment, the county would pay for the expenses of bringing an officer onto the task force.
The county sheriff’s office would lead the effort.
Three years ago, Schenectady County consolidated its police dispatch efforts into a Unified Command Center. Again, Rory Fluman.
“And how do you do that? It was a tremendous process and lift. And lessons learned, you go by the community needs.”
Fluman expects a similar approach, with input from police agencies going into the Street Crime Interdiction Task Force.