Contact: John Caher, Press Office
(518) 457-8415 or cell: (518) 225-5240
For immediate release: Monday, July 21, 2008
State invests in Schenectady County crime-fighting efforts
New gun interdiction initiatives announced, video surveillance cameras demonstrated
SCHENECTADY – Law enforcement officials and community leaders today joined Denise E. O’Donnell, commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), at Jerry Burrell Park to announce a $900,597 grant to fund strategic crime-fighting initiatives in Schenectady County.
Operation IMPACT is a DCJS program to tackle violent and gun crime in the 17 counties Upstate and on Long Island that report 80 percent of crime outside of New York City. Schenectady’s strategy this year under Operation IMPACT includes a focus on gun interdiction.
“Governor Paterson and I are pleased to provide this IMPACT award to our partners in Schenectady County, who have identified gun violence as a critical public safety problem and devised a sound strategy to address that problem,” said Commissioner Denise E. O’Donnell. “Our award this year will help support ‘Operation Gun Tell,’ which enlists community support to get illegal guns off our streets and out of our neighborhoods.”
IMPACT grants fund personnel, including crime analysts, assistant district attorneys, field intelligence officers, probation officers and investigators. The grants also support technology, such as mobile surveillance cameras, crime mapping software, digital fingerprinting equipment and laptop computers.
The following agencies in Schenectady County will share the IMPACT award: Schenectady City Police Department ($456,528); Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office ($259,636); Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office ($82,274); and the Schenectady County Probation Department ($102,159).
With the help of Operation IMPACT, crime in Schenectady dropped nearly 15 percent last year, as the county reported declines in all seven “index” crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft).
For the first five months of 2008, even while violent crime in Schenectady decreased overall by nearly 6 percent, the number of firearm-related violent crimes increased by 22 percent. Firearm-related robberies are up approximately 25 percent for the first five months of 2008.
Schenectady County’s IMPACT strategy this year targets robberies and burglaries, with a particular emphasis on gun crimes. With programs such as the Neighborhood Watch and the Operation Gun Tell, along with a public information strategy, Schenectady will continue to mobilize the community to address quality of life issues and help reduce the number of illegal guns on the street. Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office will adopt a no plea bargain policy in cases involving illegal guns.
“Our law enforcement partners on the Schenectady Operation IMPACT team are committed to the proven IMPACT model, which includes interagency and intragency collaboration, intelligence-based policing, deployment of technology and timely use of accurate crime data and technology,” Commissioner O’Donnell said. “IMPACT strives not only to respond to crime, but to prevent crime.”
Also at the press conference, officials demonstrated the use of surveillance cameras that are mounted in strategic locations around the city of Schenectady.
Two of the 19 cameras in Schenectady are focused on the Jerry Burrell Park area, and one of them was instrumental in solving a firearm-related murder. Although the camera did not capture the actual shooting, it did capture the aftermath and officials were able to identify witnesses who provided key testimony, leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. The defendant was sentenced earlier this month to a 70-year-to-life prison term.
IMPACT grants are awarded competitively, with priority given to those jurisdictions with the highest volume of crime. In addition to providing IMPACT partners with grant funds, DCJS also has a technical assistance team that provides on-site training, guidance and assistance in developing effective crime-reduction strategies that address each jurisdiction’s unique needs and trends.DCJS continually monitors the effectiveness of the program through monthly crime trend meetings with its IMPACT partners. These meetings provide each IMPACT site with an opportunity to present an ongoing overview of their strategy and how it relates to the crime problem in their jurisdiction as determined by their analysis. The crime trends meetings also provide a forum for the local IMPACT partners to discuss obstacles that they are encountering, and to identify any additional needs that they have that will assist them in reducing crime.