I must respectfully disagree with Mayor Sottile, Alderman Hoffay, and Alderman Turco-Levin concerning their statements in the newspaper blaming the Kingston Police Department for not knowing in advance about the party on O'Neil Street on New Year's Eve.
I think a few facts are important to note:
First, this was the FIRST event held at this illegal nightclub and it was on New Year's Eve. To see numerous cars in an area is not that unusual for New Year's Eve. Everyone and their mother has a party on New Year's Eve. Because it was December, it is unlikely the people would have come riding motorcycles. They would have come in cars and been less noticeable.
SECOND, the group holding this party was a motorcycle gang from Newburgh, not Kingston. Had it been done by a Kingston based gang, I feel very confident that the Police Department would have heard about it and would have taken appropriate action.
THIRD, this was not a party open to the public. It was a private party announced on a Facebook page. Unless a police officer had reason to specifically go to the website for a Newburgh Motorcycle Gang, there was no reason for them to have seen it.
FOURTH, the Police Department does not have a crystal ball. They rely on sources and members of the public for their intelligence information. Since the people at the party were primarily from Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, very few Kingstonians knew of it.
I do not believe it is productive to question the Kingston Police Department and their intelligence or abilities. Within 48 hours of the incident, the Police made numerous arrests including the man accused of shooting someone and pistol whipping a woman.
I must also note that the KPD stopped a man from killing himself on Wilbur Avenue. According to the article, he was armed with a rifle or shotgun and ready to kill himself. The Police forced their way in and convinced him to put down his weapon. They then had him taken to a hospital for observation. Sounds like good work to me.
Throughout my political career, I have been calling for tougher measures against crime. I have never questioned the abilities of our Police Department or its intelligence operations. As a former Prosecutor, I am well aware of the intelligence networks that good police departments have. I also know what is necessary to solve crimes and make arrests. Based upon this experience and my own observations, I consider the Police Department of the City of Kingston to be top notch. They do a tough job and need our full support.
Perhaps our elected officials should worry more about dealing with issues of crime and urban decay and focus less on second guessing our Police Department. I am disappointed that some of our elected officials are handling this matter in such a negative way.
We must have zero tolerance for crime, drugs, and guns. We should add more police officers on the street during weekends when crime is more rampant, arrange crime sweeps to pick up those with outstanding warrants, and expand our efforts with URGENT. We should also look to the federal government for assistance similar to what they are offering Newburgh currently.
These are ideas worth considering. I am sure there are many other ideas out there as well. Our elected officials serve no purpose questioning the Police Department in this way. Let's put our heads together and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Police Department. Together, we can fight crime and improve our city. When elected officials choose to criticize Police for political reasons rather than praise them for a job well done, they degrade the ability of the police to protect our city and our neighbors.