Neighbors of Troy talk crime, safety

Residents of Beman Park, Hillside meet with Troy Police Department

On Wednesday, January 23, members of the Beman Park and Hillside areas of Troy met at RPI’s Chapel and Cultural Center to discuss the issue of crime in the city, particularly in their areas. They were joined by Rensselaer’s Grand Marshal Kevin Dai ‘14, Associate Dean of Off-Campus Commons Cary Dresher, and members of the Troy Police Department.

Elizabeth Rodriguez began the meeting by explaining 27 properties had changed hands from Campus Habitat to SEFCU, who had been the primary lender for them. Peter Sciocchetti of Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties will begin marketing the properties in the near future.

The police officers that attended the meeting were Assistant Chief Van Bramer, Captain Dan DeWolf, Officer Colleen Goldston, and Crime Analyst Andrew Wheeler. Goldston had served as the community police officer for the Beman Park and Hillside areas while Kevin Sessions had been on medical leave. Bramer, though, stated that Sessions would soon return to normal duty.

Bramer and Goldston then took the floor, discussing the concept of “community policing.” According to Rodriguez, they described it as such: “An officer is assigned to a region as an additional resource to the usual patrols. They target “projects” that will benefit their territory and have the time to coordinate with other agencies and stakeholders outside of the department. They deal with long term problems and are a point person for communicating.”

Bramer then discussed some crime statistics. In comparison to the five-year average, crime in Troy primarily went down. The only type of crime that increased was larceny. However, when compared to 2011, rates of robbery, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and shooting incidents involving injury increased. Instances of murder also increased from zero in 2011 to six in 2012. Bramer mentioned that this statistic, in particular, has been cause for concern among police officers. Complete statistics can be found at the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, located at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/. Another point Bramer brought up was that the number of burglaries jumped during the winter break, as RPI students were not in town to occupy their apartments.

Wheeler then provided those who attended the meeting with maps highlighting locations of crime in the Troy area. Several areas were marked as “hot spots” of crime. The Beman Park region of Troy was labeled as a hot spot, with 15 incidents of larcenies from motor vehicles. For additional information regarding the graphics, residents of the Troy area can contact Wheeler via e-mail at Andrew.Wheeler@troyny.gov. The graphics are not currently available online, but one RPI student who attended the meeting suggested that the neighborhood group get in touch with other RPI students to create a database with the Department of Justice’s crime data, as well as a system that would allow Troy residents to input and read data via graphics.

Attendees were in agreement that one of the best ways to stay safe in Troy is to get on good terms with one’s neighbors. Goldston also made several suggestions, including walking in pairs, being aware of one’s surroundings, calling the police about suspicious activity, and locking doors and vehicles.

Both Goldston and Bramer, though, stressed that the police can’t solve the problem with crime. Goldston said that the police don’t stop crime, they just relocate it to a different location. “There is no silver or golden bullet that’ll solve every problem,” added Bramer.

The last topic the officers covered was “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design.” Essentially, this involves manipulating the environment to prevent crime. This includes actions such as shoveling the sidewalk, keeping porch lights on all night, and using motion sensors for lights.

For more information about off-campus safety, students, faculty, and staff can contact RPI’s Department of Public Safety either online at http://rpi.edu/dept/public_safety/ or visit their office on campus. Troy PD can also be contacted through the numbers listed on their website at http://troyny.gov/Departments/PoliceDepartment/Home.aspx/.