By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Glens Falls Mayor Bill Collins confirms that police have “a person of interest” in the three alleged armed robbery attempts on City Streets over 36 hours, Jan. 10-11.
“Soon there will be enough information for everybody to feel comfortable — within a week or two weeks,” Mayor Collins told The Chronicle Monday.
We asked: Is there a crime wave, or increased danger in the City of Glens Falls?
“Not at all,” says Mayor Collins. He referenced a similar prior event.
“Sure enough, it ends up the story of one person who is desperate, with a history of criminal activity, who gets caught and we say wow, what a shame. The problem tends to be people who are down and out who make a series of stupid decisions. Sometimes they get so desperate and do something so dangerous and stupid as this.”
“This guy had a gun,” Mayor Collins concedes. “This is a serious thing. We are lucky no one got shot. But there’s no crime wave or trend here. I believe we will find that one person got desperate and did these things.”
The mayor said, “There is a trend, times are getting tougher for those who are down and out in the country, and Glens Falls is a microcosm of that. It is dangerous, but I think this is what we will find. Dangerous situations arise in any community.”
He cited a Web survey last spring that named Glens Falls “the safest city in the United States.”
The mayor said his message is, “Anybody and everybody, if you see something, say something. Call it in. Help us to keep Glens Falls as safe as it is.”
He notes that the Board of Public Safety, which he chairs, added a new police officer and budgeted a full-time social worker for the department this year.
He said adding a social worker is in keeping with policies initiated by then-Mayor Dan Hall, through 2020 police and fire department reform mandates from then-Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“You can’t arrest yourself out of the problem,” Mayor Collins says, is the thinking. “The need of a social worker working with police and fire departments is important, and I don’t think we would say that 30 years ago. A police officer today is seeing people in just as much need of social services as arrest.
“Does that mean people should never go to jail? It’s not all or nothing. It’s about assessing the true needs of somebody. A person who you arrest for trespassing, who was looking for a place to sleep isn’t helped by putting them in jail. They may end up in jail, rightfully, but that’s not the long term solution.”
“Like every community,” Mayor Collins said, “Glens Falls is struggling to hire police officers and firefighters. There are young people out there not realizing what a great civil service job and career this is.”
He said Glens Falls has one new officer at the Police Academy, “and we’re waiting for the new Civil Service exams to continue to hire. We had some officers leave recently who weren’t into overnight shifts. That’s tough, but we are covering all shifts at the minimum. We are able to meet the staffing needs of both departments.”
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