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EDITORIAL: People should feel secure in their homes, neighborhoods

Posted 11/16/22

Crime — and punishment — are always hot button issues, and deservedly so. Residents should feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods. Likewise, shopkeepers and workers shouldn’t have to work …

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EDITORIAL: People should feel secure in their homes, neighborhoods

Posted

Crime — and punishment — are always hot button issues, and deservedly so. Residents should feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods. Likewise, shopkeepers and workers shouldn’t have to work in fear.

Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and top members of the Rome Police Department gathered at the Justice Building on Tuesday to discuss crime — and the perception that crime is on the rise in the city.

“Rome is an extremely safe city,” Izzo said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“I have not had a groundswell of people contacting my office that there is a significant crime problem in Rome,” said Izzo, who was joined by Police Chief David J. Collins and other departmental officials.

The statistics from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services back up her claim — although there was no shortage of advertising claiming the exact opposite during the just completed general election season.

While the Rome Police Department has reported an increase in some major crimes over the past two years — such as murder and robbery, as well as property crimes, such as burglary and larceny — that increase is within the normal range of reported crimes over the past decade. Privately, some officers say that gun-related crimes have become more prevalent in the region, although the state and federal crime statistics don’t specifically have separate categories regarding the use of guns or other weapons.

Although the crime statistics are comparable over the past 10 years, Collins said there has been an increase in the number of arrests this year compared to last year. So far in 2022, police have made 2,344 arrests — an increase of roughly 474 arrests from the same period in 2021. Meaning, police are out there, doing their work.

The fact that the crime statistics remain comparable to those over the past decade is only modestly comforting — and certainly no comfort at all to those who have been the victim of violent crime.

To help keep crime under control, Izzo and Collins announced initiatives such as strengthening both the Street Crimes Unit, which launched earlier this year to take a more targeted approach to crime in the city, as well as the Community Impact Unit, which tackles quality-of-life issues.

The department will also bring back the civilian police academy starting in January, which is a 10-week class that is open to the public to give attendees a direct look at the operations of the Rome Police Department, the chief said.

The police department is partnering with the Rome branch of the NAACP to bolster the civilian police academy, as well as the Volunteers In Police Service group, Collins said.

We thank Izzo and Collins for being receptive to changes to address these issues and encourage those with the time and inclination to serve to look into becoming active members of the civilian police academy and the VIP program.

We would also encourage the re-establishment of the Neighborhood Watch programs in the city which were once an effective tool as part of the city’s overall community policing strategy.

Izzo and Collins also touched on other issues — from homelessness to drug abuse to mental health issues — that impact public safety which require comprehensive solutions, of which policing is but one part.

We are appreciative — not just for the response of the mayor and the police department — but also to those citizens, who brought their concerns to the Common Council, and to the councilors for being receptive to addressing the issue.

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