Governor proposes IMPACT teams to fight crime
Last week in his State of the State address, Gov. George E. Pataki proposed a formal IMPACT team that would pair New York State Troopers with municipal police officers in high-crime areas. PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis lauded the Governor’s plan, and said, "The Governor’s IMPACT plan is a cutting-edge method of combating violent crime. This has previously been utilized in Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Newburgh and other cities on a limited basis, in which New York State Troopers and municipal police officers teamed up to make the communities safer for their residents again. The Governor’s formalization and expansion of this program is excellent news for all the state’s residents."
To read a story released by the Associated Press on this program, refer to the text below.
By BEN DOBBIN
Associated Press Writer
January 7, 2004, 4:06 PM EST
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Gov. George Pataki is mobilizing more than 300 troopers in a state initiative aimed at quelling a wave of killings in Rochester and Buffalo and hosing down crime "hot spots" in 15 counties across upstate New York and Long Island.
Instead of just sending in a forensic-lab specialist to help solve a high-profile murder or a half-dozen troopers to beef up patrols in gritty neighborhoods, Operation Impact will offer communities much more state help than they’re accustomed to in fighting crime.
Drawing on the state’s entire criminal justice machine, the so-called Integrated Municipal Police Anti-Crime Teams "will work with local police and community leaders to combat crime on an unprecedented scale," Pataki said in his State of the State address Wednesday.
The operation will focus this year on helping 15 counties _ from Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island to Niagara and Erie counties in western New York _ that account for about 80 percent of crime in New York outside of New York City.
By "bringing the full force of state and local law enforcement to bear on the most crime-plagued areas of our state … Operation Impact will save lives," the Republican governor said.
Rochester’s homicide toll jumped to 57 in 2003, its highest level since 1997, while Buffalo had 60 killings, up from 44. Killings also edged up to 11 in Schenectady, where a gunman killed four people on Christmas Day, while Syracuse had an average tally of 16 murders after a record 25 in 2002.
Communities big and small need all the help they can get in tackling street violence, which is frequently tied to drug and gangs feuds, said Wayne Bennett, superintendent of the New York State police, which boasts 4,600 police officers.
"We are there for a very specific and focused purpose to help them address whatever level of violent crime they have in their jurisdictions which is a concern to them," Bennett said. "These things they’re going through right now hopefully are strictly temporary but you need to get on top of these situations as fast as possible."
The program will offer the expertise of more than 300 troopers in such arenas as DNA analysis, executing felony warrants and investigating drug operations or unsolved killings.
"We know that where there are drugs there are gangs involved, and where there are gangs there are firearms involved, so having those different disciplines all together should make us a substantially stronger force," said Glens Falls police Chief Richard Carey, the new president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.
The 15 targeted counties are: Albany, Broome, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk and Westchester.
Aside from directly targeting criminal activity, Pataki said the operation will involve "community leaders, faith-based organizations and neighborhood groups to build crime-fighting strategies that address the unique needs of the community."
The governor also proposed legislation aimed at clamping down on aggressive drivers who endanger lives on the road. He proposed stiffening penalties for hit-and-run and unlicensed motorists and those whose flagrant actions cause serious injury or death.