Friday, February 27, 2009

Cameras...Lights... NO DRUG TRANSACTIONS!

Yesterday I was yapping about the police department. Newburgh PD. Today, I am going to lay out some ideas. Everyone has ideas. And there are many approaches to clean up a city ridden with crime. I am sharing mine.
Unfortunately, we must acknowledge first that, in Newburgh, we a culture of crime that is deep rooted. We have a city full of people hampered and impaired by alcohol, drugs and other addictive behaviors. Ask any cop in Newburgh and they will tell you that most of the violent crimes were spurred by some addictive behavior.
Another group who can be worse than the addicts are the enablers. They cushion bad behavior. They don't call the police when they witness a crime. They participate in quiet ways in this culture of crime. For instance, a man on the street offers to sell an item that is clearly stolen. An enabler will buy it and hence be a part of the problem.
So we, the collective we, must decide if we really want to clean up this city. Will we, the residents herein, have a visceral response to bad behavior in our schools, streets or City Hall?

Second, in my sometimes humble opinion, the City of Newburgh must do the following:

1. Hire a new Police Chief

Sorry Chief Paollili. Actually I think you have done a good job as chief. I have seen the positive energy among your men and women. I have seen a slew of drug dens being busted up. And I will acknowledge your accreditation. But I know, in my experience in work place environments, that having a chief who has come through the ranks is counterproductive. The chief will most times feel an affinity to his former brothers and sisters in blue. The chief knows them too well. He was one of them. That doesn't work in the line of command.
I suggest an outside force. An experienced police chief on the national scene who specializes in communities like Newburgh. A chief with a proven record of addressing gang behavior and reducing violent crime and drug peddling while still improving quality of life issues.
In yesterday's Times Herald-Record article, there was a good example of why an outside administrator is needed. Apparently, $17,000 is missing from the safe that keeps items confiscated in drug busts. According to my sources, only two police officers have the safe key. These monies are marked and kept in that safe until transferred to City Hall for deposit in a special account by the Comptroller. But the monies were lost or stolen somewhere in the process. The monies have been missing for six months. The Orange County DA and FBI are investigating.
An outside administrator would have set up checks and balances so this situation would never sully the reputation of his or her police department.
The kicker here is that the monies were missing for six months and the City Council just learned about it a week ago. But the Mayor knew. Oops, back to the police.

2. Place more cameras in Drug Zones

Why spend money on manpower, when you can put up surveilliance cameras that work 24-hours a day without a pay and benefits. Cameras work. For drug dealers, cameras are like Kryptonite. A better analogy is that cameras are like lights; they force the cockroaches to run and hide.
I lived on South Williams by a bar called the Casbah. It was an experience that I am hesitant to write about but will do so in the future. All day and night, men stood out on the corner selling their illegal consumables. They had not a worry in world. Business was brisk. Some nights there would be fights with 100 or 200 people in the streets. I would call the police, but police don't rush to such scenes when there are only 4 or 6 officers available at 3AM. So you can imagine the havoc and mayhem.
Then came the cameras. I didn't see them at first, but I noticed the drug dealers were gone. I asked around to see if they had all been arrested. But no. They ran from the cameras. They ran far away. In fact, I don't even think they are in Newburgh.
Cameras work. We need more.

Cut down the sneakers

This is a small thing. But it bugs me. All over the rough sections of the city, people hang sneakers on the electric lines. They are basically a sign or advertisement saying: DRUGS ARE SOLD HERE.
If the DPW can fix traffic lights and put up Christmas lights, why can't they cut down the sneakers. It would make the city look much better.

I have a few more things to add but, it is time to do some business.

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