Binghamton Police and city council members are working together to put an end to rising crime rates in one neighborhood. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, the city’s financial situation isn’t making things easy for police and with the holidays approaching, authorities are warning residents to be even more cautious.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- It’s a neighborhood that’s given police in Binghamton a hard time for many years.
"Historically, month after month, year after year, almost half our crimes are on the West Side of Binghamton. It’s a trend we’ve been following for several years,” said Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski.
And now crime is on the rise in the city’s West Side and that’s got city police and council members working together to find a way to stop it.
"We know we’re shorthanded, chief says crime is increasing, the burglaries, break-ins,” said Binghamton City Councilor Bill Berg.
Almost half of the city's 219 car larcenies this year have taken on the West Side. Last month alone, 42 cars were broken into, up from 31 in 2011. There were also 61 burglaries, up from 37 the year before.
"The aggravated assault numbers are also up, but they follow the larcenies, center city to the West Side,” said Zikuski.
Zikuski says they have four police cars set up in the neighborhood and council members say adding more police officers would cost money the city doesn’t have, leaving them to brainstorm other possibilities.
"A security force that would work directly under the chief of police, not associated with the BPA, possible the CSEA,” said Berg.
Zikuski added, "A lot of issues with that, in my opinion, I’m not an attorney, union issues, but I’m willing to look at it with my legal advisor."
With no solution yet, Zikuski says as the holidays approach, it’s even more important for neighbors to keep their valuables out of sight.
"If you’re out shopping, even if you run into someone’s house for 15 minutes, put your valuables in the trunk,” said Zikuski. “Believe it or not, they’re smashing car windows for two or three dollars worth of change in the ash tray, in the cup holder. Don’t leave anything visible."
Zikuski says these are crimes of opportunity and thinking ahead can save you from becoming a victim.
The council will meet again on December 17th to continue to talk over the options.