Monday, October 25, 2004

Mayor Jennings Says Gangs Not a Problem

In case you missed Mayor Jennings radio show last Friday:

A caller mentioned that she was worried about the "gang signs" being spraypainted in her neighborhood. The Mayor said they would clean them up and that they had arrested the two people involved. The Mayor claimed that they were "graffiti artists" and not real gang members. He then said there was an upcoming conference in Florida on gangs and cities that he might attend but he might not because it was 2 or 3 days of his time and he was really busy. He told another caller that we have no specific "anti-gang" police unit. He does not see it as a potential problem. Meanwhile, last week in Schenectady two 15 year olds shot someone while trying to rob them during a botched drug deal. If you've got 15 year olds shooting people in the streets in upstate New York, you can be confident that we may have a gang problem.

When David Soares talks about being "pro-active" on crime this is the type of thing he means. Albany needs to address the growing gang problem now and not wait until kids start shooting people.

In February of 2003 we had a detective in Albany admitting there was a problem but also saying no one would talk about it (taken from

"But while the gang problem in some upstate New York communities could be worse, some people deny the problem exists at all, Albany Police detective Dan Stevens said. Albany's most recent gang problem started in the mid-1990s.

"They say, 'We don't have a gang problem,' " he said. "That really fuels it."

Police sometimes don't say much about the topic because they don't want to give gangs credibility, Nawojczyk said.

"It's a dangerous thing to do because the community tends to not be involved ... because they don't think there's a problem," he said.

"Politicians often fear they'll be blamed for the problem. (Citizens) have to make it clear to the leadership, 'We don't blame you for this. But we will blame you for this if you don't do something about it.' "

You can read it all here:

If the politicians aren't going to address this, I guess its up to the citizens. Electing David Soares is a good first step. Electing other officials that will address this head on is what really is required. Dismissing gang signs as "graffitti" and gang members as "graffitti artists" is not the pro-active approach required.