|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD – In response to the recent spate of violence in the city, Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Commissioner William Fitchet announced the return of the Street Crimes Unit that had proven to be effective in reducing gang activity in the past.
Both Fitchet and Sarno asked for the public’s cooperation in reducing the violence.
Sarno said that in the neighborhoods most affected by the gang activities there are good families who have said, “Please do what you have to do to get back the peace.”
At a press conference on Oct. 17, Fitchet explained the unit had been disbanded because of budget issues. To re-activate it, he assembled officers from other units, he noted.
Fitchet declined to say how many officers would be assigned to the unit and explained where in the city it would operate and what situations it would target would depend on daily crime and gang intelligence.
The commissioner said that by varying where the unit is has proven to be “unsettling” to gangs.
The unit would be working closely with other units in the Police Department as well as the State Police and federal law enforcement. The unit is already active and has made arrests.
State Rep. Benjamin Swan said, “There has been too much killing. This has to stop.”
City Councilor Bud Williams said he has been advocating for the return of the unit and described the announcement as “music to my ears.”
Williams said, “I think the city is safe, but there is the perception it isn’t safe.” He added he has met with the city’s legislative delegation to try to secure funding for the unit.
Sarno said parents to be aware of their children’s whereabouts and activities and advised, “Keep your thumb on them.”
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