Archive for the "Initiatives" Category

City Will Take Part in “Operation See! Be Seen!” Campaign

The City of Poughkeepsie Police Department will once again participate in the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s “Operation See! Be Seen!” campaign, designed to raise awareness about keeping pedestrians safe across the state.

During this two-week campaign, from June 14 through June 27, city police will be patrolling busy pedestrian corridors and issuing warning notices, tickets and informative tip cards to both motorists and pedestrians found violating the law. More than a dozen law enforcement agencies, including Poughkeepsie, will cover 20 “focus communities” identified in the statewide Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, where pedestrian crash volume is highest outside of New York City.

 “We take this matter seriously,” said City of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Tom Pape. “Making sure pedestrians are safe is imperative, particularly in a walkable city like Poughkeepsie.”

Hannah Early, at left, and Chelsea Schwarze, use a crosswalk on Main Street in the City of Poughkeepsie to make their way during a lunch break recently. Early is the programming coordinator for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and Schwarze is member relations director for the Chamber.

State officials point out that more than 25 percent of motor-vehicle-related fatalities are pedestrians. The majority of those, 61 percent, were related to driver actions, while 37 percent were deemed to be caused by pedestrian actions.

The education campaign emphasizes the “See! Be Seen!” message for both drivers and pedestrians. For instance, drivers must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections. They should not block crosswalks when stopped at intersections. They should always look for pedestrians, particularly when turning at a green light or making a right turn on red.

Pedestrians must cross at intersections and marked crosswalks. They should use pedestrian push-buttons where available and wait for the signal to cross. They are reminded that, when no sidewalks are available, they should walk facing traffic so they see vehicles and drivers see them.

“With the warmer weather,” City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison noted, “There are more people walking in the city. It’s an encouraging sign to see, but it also means drivers have to stay alert at crosswalks and in other places attracting pedestrians.”

Mayor Rolison said the city has been embracing the “complete-streets” concept, which means equal consideration should be given to all users of the street — including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and persons with limited mobility.  The city has formed a Complete Streets Working Group and will be doing outreach with the public and other stakeholders.

The state’s enforcement mobilization is part of the broader Pedestrian Safety Action Plan being implemented by the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Department of Health and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s

Last year, the city was awarded $2,430,000 as part of the plan’s grant program. The statewide initiative calls for a systemic approach to address pedestrian safety issues and provides funding to local governments to implement low-cost, high-impact improvements at known hazardous locations. 

The city will use the PSAP funding along corridors, intersections and uncontrolled crosswalks where the highest pedestrian traffic exists and where past accidents have occurred, including sites along Main, Mansion, and Market streets.  Interventions will include upgrading high-visibility crosswalks and signage, installing countdown pedestrian timers, and in some locations introducing curbed pedestrian refuges at crosswalks.

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To learn more about “Operation See! Be Seen!” and the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, visit the GTSC Pedestrian Safety page, go to:
www.safeny.ny.gov/peds-ndx.htm and www.ny.gov/programs/pedestrian-safety-action-plan

City of Poughkeepsie Unveils Police Initiatives, Including New School Resource Officer & Online Reporting Forms

City of Poughkeepsie Police Department officials and city leaders address students at a rally at the Poughkeepsie Middle School Tuesday, May 23, when the department’s school resource officer was introduced.

The City of Poughkeepsie is firmly committed to public safety, as demonstrated by recently released statistics showing most categories of violent crimes have dropped dramatically over the last decade and by the city’s hiring of new officers, bringing the police department back to full strength for the first time in three years. But city officials are not stopping there.

Mayor Rob Rolison and Police Chief Thomas Pape are rolling out ambitious plans to build on the momentum regarding public safety.

“We have made great strides,” Mayor Rolison said. “But there is more we can do, and I’m proud how the police department has responded to the challenge.”

This week, the police department completed several important tasks and will implement other proposals in 2019. They include:

  • Placing a school resource officer in the City of Poughkeepsie School District. The School Resource Officer (SRO) Program has been known to create a safer school environment and bridge the gap between youth and law enforcement, establishing a channel of communication that can make all the difference in school and later in life for youth. SROs make students, faculty, staff and parents feel welcome, but also provide private and confidential appointments when necessary. On Tuesday, Officer Karen Zirbel was introduced to students at rallies at the Poughkeepsie middle and high schools as the police department’s school resource officer. “I’m not here to punish people,” she told the students, “I’m here to help.”
  • Improving the complaint form process. These forms are used when the public has questions about police procedures and policies. The city has enhanced its complaint process by improving accessibility and by developing a new easy-to-use online reporting tool. Forms can be used to file civilian complaints and for commendations for the actions of officers. Submitted forms will be reviewed by a member of the command staff and assigned to the appropriate supervisor for action. The forms are available at http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/police-department.
  • Restoring the community policing unit. This unit was dissolved in 2011 as a result of budget cuts. This week, the city designated two officers to begin community policing addressing quality of life issues around the Main Street corridor. Community policing keeps officers patrolling the same area in order to form a stronger bond with the citizens living and working there. The city plans to add officers to this cause when six new recruits graduate the police academy later this year.
  • Working effectively with SNUG. Operation SNUG (guns spelled backwards) is a statewide implementation of the Cure Violence model in New York. The city recently asked local SNUG officials to make changes in the schedules of outreach workers to have more of a presence when students are let out of school. “We appreciate how quickly Danny Hairston, SNUG coordinator at Family Services, Inc., and his team responded to our requests, in light of some of the activity we have seen by some students after they leave school grounds,” said Police Chief Pape. The chief said police regularly respond to reports of students fighting in and around the schools after dismissal.
  • Equipping the officers with body cameras. Over the next five years, the city will invest $510,120 in equipment, and initial deployment of this new resource will start this fall. First, there will be a pilot program involving six cameras, but the city has committed to 65 cameras and supportive equipment, such as docking stations. The city has consulted with experts, including civil rights attorneys, to develop policies that comply with federal and state laws and follow best practices. The cameras will provide more transparency about how officers operate in the field – and about the situations to which they respond.
  • Completing implicit bias training for officers. The police department completed procedural justice training in December, and the implicit bias training is scheduled to be finished by this fall. Procedural justice focuses on the way police interact with the public, with the understanding that treating people with dignity and respect and giving citizens a voice during encounters promotes community trust. Building upon this training, officers are focusing on learning more about implicit bias, the automatic association people now make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups. Studies have shown that people and institutions can act on racial prejudices, in spite of the best of intentions and nondiscriminatory policies or standards. Additionally, a committee including police officers, some Common Council members and community members will meet as often as necessary to address community concerns as they relate to police relations.
  • Improving the diversity ranks. City officials met with Dutchess County civil service officials recently to discuss exam requirements. They also met with members of the Upsilon Tau Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. This group is devoted to creating local interest in careers in law enforcement, focusing on minorities. The city police also conducts a “Careers in Law Enforcement” program for local students, in part, to create a path for more diversity on the force.
  • Building on the success of the officer retention package. The program raises salaries for officers to keep the city competitive with its neighbors and other regional police departments. This package will make it easier to keep and hire officers. Over the last year, the city has been able to increase its ranks from 79 to 92 officers, bringing the staff to full strength.
  • Addressing any issues raised in a Poughkeepsie police survey. That survey was sent out to 3,000 randomly selected households last year to gauge the public’s feelings about community-police interactions. The Marist College Center for Social Justice Research is tabulating the results of that survey.
  • Collaborating with the public for help. Police can’t do it alone. Curbing crime takes a comprehensive effort, with community members coming forward when necessary to report crime or what they may have witnessed. Anyone with information about crime can reach the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department at 845-451-7577. The city also pays $250 to anyone who provides information leading to the recovery of an illegal gun and $500 for information leading to an arrest of a person possessing an illegal gun. All such reports are entirely confidential.

Moving forward with these measures comes on the heels of a report from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services showing a decrease in crime in the city. Specifically, violent crimes have dropped from 417 in 2009 to 216 in 2018, a 48.2 percent decrease. And robberies, burglaries and property crimes also have fallen by 50 percent or more during the same timeframe.

“This is great news for the community and a testament to the hard work done by our police department,” Mayor Rolison said. “We look forward to working with the community to make Poughkeepsie as safe as possible so people can live, work and prosper here in our city.”

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