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Mayor, police chief say crime under control

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 11/16/22

Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and members of the Rome Police Department gathered on Tuesday to discuss crime.

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Mayor, police chief say crime under control

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ROME — Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo and members of the Rome Police Department gathered on Tuesday to discuss crime — and several departmental and civilian initiatives to help keep crime under control in the city.

The announcement at the city’s police station was in response to complaints about crime in the community by a business owner at Common Council meetings, the officials said. They did not name the business owner.

“Rome is an extremely safe city,” Izzo said during the press conference.

The mayor’s full remarks, as well as those from the department, are available to watch on the Rome Police Department’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RomeNYPoliceDepartment.

“I have not had a groundswell of people contacting my office that there is a significant crime problem in Rome,” Izzo said. “We take all crime very seriously. Our police department is here to help this community, to nurture it and to keep it safe.”

Izzo was joined by Police Chief David J. Collins and other departmental officials who stated that local crime statistics do not show a “significant” increase in crime, and that many recent issues are out of their hands, such as bail reform and the New York State’s mental health crisis.

“This is what we’re dealing with,” said Collins. “We’re trying to do what we can and stay a step ahead. Sometimes it feels like the system is making it harder to do the job.”

Crime statistics

According to publicly available statistics from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Rome Police Department has reported an uptick in some major crimes over the past two years — such as murder and robbery, as well as property crimes, such as burglary and larceny — but that uptick is within the normal range of reported crimes over the past 10 or so years in total.

Between 2012 and 2016, Rome remained relatively steady with reported major crimes, with 514 reported in 2012; 709 reported in 2013; 657 reported in 2014; 658 reported in 2015; and a total of 671 reported in 2016.

The statistics show that crime started to decline in the following years, before beginning to rise during the pandemic. There were 634 reported major crimes in 2017; 589 reported in 2018; 578 reported in 2019; 645 reported in 2020; and 710 reported in 2021, according to the DCJS.

Also during this period, the Rome Police Department switched to the new, federally-mandated National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which went into effect at the start of 2021. Officials have said this new, more detailed system could also account for a rise in the number of reported crimes.

Collins said there has been an increase in the number of arrests this year compared to last, with 2,344 arrests so far to date, an increase of roughly 474 arrests from the same period last year.

Initiatives

To help keep crime under control, and to strengthen the relationship between the police department and the community, Izzo and Collins announced several initiatives going forward.

The department is looking to strengthen 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. Collins said his administration is also in negotiations with the police union to try to alter patrol shifts to include more overlap, so that more patrol officers are on the streets at any given time.

A member of Collins’ administration has also been assigned to meet with the Common Council’s Public Safety Committee at an upcoming meeting, to have a more direct connection.

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’re looking for community members to help,” Chief Collins said on Tuesday.

Related issues

Izzo and Collins pointed to recent work to clear out homeless encampments in the city. This has been an ongoing duty of the police department, officials said, and there was a recent push to clear out several established camps earlier this month.

Even with all of the work being done, both the mayor and the police chief said a lot of the issues are out of the hands of local officials. Along with the ongoing issues of bail reform, which they said has led to repeat offenders and more arrests, the department is also up against problems caused by raise the age and the state’s mental health crisis, they said.

As one example, they pointed to a 17-year-old juvenile charged in several business break-ins in Rome in August, who was released on house arrest because there is a statewide shortage of detention facilities for juvenile offenders. While on house arrest, officials said the teen returned to Rome and committed more crimes, for which he was again taken into custody.

Along with the shortage of facilities for juvenile offenders, the mayor and chief said there is a shortage of beds for mental health cases. Rome Health is not a psychiatric facility, they noted, unless the case is an emergency. So mental health cases in Rome often have to be transported to Utica or Syracuse, which are dealing with their own cases.

“We don’t have a lot of options,” Izzo stated.

“Mental health is a real problem is for law enforcement. The State of New York doesn’t have a plan.”

To tackle the problem locally, police said they try to stay aware of all repeat mental health cases to keep track of their movements, as well as working with the Rome Rescue Mission and social services departments to help where they can.

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  • cannabis4ny

    So you cite no measurable increase in crime and STILL whine about bail reform? The data says this reform accomplished the intended goals. MORE accused show up for court and FEWER are being held, fed, and cared for in our jails on our dime while they wait. No wonder people are pissed.

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