Police Chief Rod Foley said the Violence Interruption Patrols put in place over the summer have been successful, and he is looking to continue building on that success.
The department stepped up patrols in high-crime areas between June and the end of August using help from other departments and overtime patrols.
The goal was to allow officers to aggressively patrol, search for those carrying illegal guns and have positive interaction with those law-abiding citizens living in those areas.
Foley said the city has seen five homicides since the stepped-up patrols began, and only one of those is believed to be gang- related. The city has had 19 homicides this year.
“We still have had too many homicides for a city of our size, and we wanted to have an impact on that and on this gun violence,” said Foley. “Overall, we did influence the numbers for gun activity and violence, and we are happy about that.”
Police, under the initiative, confiscated 50 guns, more than $50,000, and made more than 140 arrests for people in the use of crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana. There were also an additional 67 arrests for miscellaneous drug offenses.
Foley said the department will continue going forward with the same efforts in the VIP program. He said there are plans to continue stepped-up patrols in some of the high-crime areas in the city.
“We have had some influences, but the main thing is to keep the train moving,” he said. “One of the hardest things is to keep this going into the future. That will be our goal and focus.”
Mayor Charles Sammarone said he also is dedicated to continuing the stepped-up enforcement. He said there are costs to consider, but he does not want to abandon a successful program.
“The things we were trying to accomplish worked. If you have a good program that works, why end it? So, we are going to figure out a way to continue it. I would like to keep it going 12 months out of the year,” he said.
One of the methods that Foley plans to use in keeping the illegal gun use and gang activity down is the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence that is currently under way.
In the CIRV program, police plan to work with social service agencies and the faith-based community to lure young people away from the streets.
“It can be hard. A lot of these guys are hard-core, but we want to give them the opportunity. You just have to want to make that change,” he said.
For those not willing to make the change, Foley said, the long arm of the law will be waiting with future stepped-up patrols and joint operations with other departments.