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Public safety issue, crime focus of comments before council

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
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Posted 12/20/22

The question of public safety and what the city is doing to address it came up once again during the public comment portion of the Common Council meeting held Wednesday.

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Public safety issue, crime focus of comments before council


ROME — The question of public safety and what the city is doing to address it came up once again during the public comment portion of the Common Council meeting held Wednesday in Council Chambers of City Hall.

John L. Ryder opened remarks regarding public safety by promoting the city’s newly reestablished Civilian Police Academy and Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program. After having been involved with VIPS over several years, Ryder said he recently accepted the position as chief of the volunteers.

“I met with Council President (Stephanie) Viscelli and (Third Ward Councilor) Kim Rogers a couple months ago, and we talked about the people’s concerns that were being talked about during the meetings here, and what the volunteers can do to help curb those concerns about crime in various parts of the city,” said Ryder. “And we talked about how they (the people) can help curb it.”

He said Rome Police has put together the Citizens Police Academy, so that residents can see how the police department works, what happens when police are called out to a scene, why they respond the way they do, etc.

“Factually, they’re following the law to the letter,” Ryder said. “I feel as strongly about curbing crime as anyone who has expressed their concerns at these meetings over the last few months.”

Ryder followed his remarks by encouraging neighbors to get involved in the Civilian Police Academy. He said the program hopes to get full enrollment for its session to begin in January, and that it has a maximum enrollment of 30 individuals.

For more information about the Civilian Police Academy and VIPS, and to download a VIPS application form, go to the Rome Police Facebook page, or contact Rome Police Lt. Sharon Rood at 315-339-7724 or ROODSL@ROMEPD.COM. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Dennis Perfetti, whose son, Ian, owns Bill’s Variety and the adjacent Express Liquors store in the 500 block of W. Thomas St., followed, complaining that city officials still weren’t doing enough to help curb crime. The Perfettis were victims of a robbery by two masked suspects with a “hunting-style” gun back in October.

“The first problem we have is that we have a problem admitting there’s a problem,” said Perfetti, who attended the city’s first Public Safety Meeting hosted by Common Council members and held Nov. 16 at South Rome Senior Center. The business owner then went on to list current crimes that occurred within city limits, including stolen “Santas” from neighbors’ porches, stolen packages, car break-ins and other incidents.

“What makes you think there’s no crime?,” Perfetti asked. “The mayor said all crimes are solved — wrong again, because they still haven’t found or arrested who shot at me and my son.”

Perfetti went on to question the council about Rome’s Public Nuisance Law, which became a major topic of discussion during last month’s Public Safety Meeting.

He also requested a follow-up on getting more pole lights and cameras installed in high-crime areas of the city, including West Thomas Street.

As for the citizens participating in the VIPS program, “It’s a fantastic idea, but the problem you have now is walking the streets in Rome,” he said. “It ain’t like 10 years ago.”

Perfetti said, “So far there’s been a lot of talking, but I haven’t seen very much action and it’s starting to get discouraging. We want to see more pole lights in a neighborhood — more cameras, more police presence. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Do you want small businesses to go away?”

Rocco Capponi, of Ashland Avenue, advocated for more youth activities to help keep kids, who are often “involved in crime,” off the streets and something to do rather than getting into trouble.

“We also need to invest in mental health services,” said Capponi.

“YMCA membership is not affordable for a lot of families,” he said, adding that additional programming and rehabilitation for city parks could result in more affordable programming for youths.

During councilor reports that followed, Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers thanked those who attended the city’s Public Safety Meeting last month, and for the “great dialogue.”

As for all the work groups at the meeting, Rogers said the “overwhelming” message was the city’s need to look at its Public Nuisance Law.

“We also” need to be sure “that the public understands what it includes, the process and how to use Public Nuisance Law,” said Rogers. “I know we’re moving forward with a document on the process for Public Nuisance. The way it’s initiated now isn’t consistent in how it works. So our goal is to create a process, from the time a request for a Public Nuisance hearing is submitted, to the specific timeframe we work with police, codes and the Corporation Counsel.”

She said Public Nuisance “is always at the top of the list on what tools the city has, and residents have, at their disposal to deal with some of these issues. The council has said it wanted a public session on Public Nuisance, because there’s some misconceptions in how it works. It can’t just be that police went to a residence several times, and then we can shut it down. There’s a certain process that must be followed, and it’s important the public knows what that is.”

Rogers added that she planned to make Public Nuisance the main topic of her next ward meeting, which meets the second Monday of the month at South Rome Senior Center.

“Education is critical at this point when dealing with some of these issues, especially when one area identified (at the Public Safety Meeting) is reinstating these Neighborhood Watch programs,” she said. “... I hope people don’t get discouraged — we made progress at that meeting. For the people who came, they saw the revitalization of VIPS and a strong effort to expand it, the Civilian Police Academy is back, we’ve seen some discussion about increased patrols, and I think people are listening, and I think things are moving. We are working, even though it might seem like it’s not getting done.”

The following agenda items were unanimously approved:

• Resolution 122 authorizing Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo to enter into an agreement with the county Department of Social Services with regard to the Child Advocacy Center of up to $108,550 for 2023 and up to $112,998 for 2024.

• Resolution 123 delegates under General Municipal Law to Commissioner of Public Works Butch Conover to authorize employees to attend conferences and schooling.

• Resolution 124 authorizing amending the Harborway on the Erie Capital Account, previously authorized by Resolution 106 of this year, to add an additional $67,060.53 to the account for a new total of $1,641,068.66.

• Resolution 125 authorizing an amendment to the 2022 city budget in an amount of $99,000, amended from $53,000 by Fifth Ward Councilor Frank R. Anderson, for Community and Economic Development contract services from the city’s appropriated fund balance.

• Resolution 126 authorizing City Treasurer David C. Nolan to pay back taxes on 31 properties in the amount of $393,335.90.

• Resolution 127 authorizing appointing individuals as Commissioners of Deeds for the city for a term to expire Dec. 31, 2024.

• Resolution 128 authorizing the city treasurer to write off uncollectible balances for inactive metered water and sewer accounts on 11 properties in the amount of $4,401 for balances delinquent for 2022.

• Resolution 129 is in honor of City Clerk Jean Osom Grande on her retirement and thanking her for her many years of service to the city.

• Ordinance 9549 authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of city-owned parcel 6991 E. Dominick St. to Clemente Importing, LLC for $10,000.

• Ordinance 9550 authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel on Bones Avenue to Rocker’s Automotive Rescue, Inc. for $1,500.

• Ordinance 9551 authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of city-owned parcel 423 W. Court St. to Timothy Granato for $1,100, amended by Councilor Rogers to merge 423 and 425 W. Court St.

• Ordinance 9552 authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of city-owned parcel 235 E. Whitesboro St. to Albert McLiesh for $1,000.

• Ordinance 9553 authorizing the sale of city-owned parcel 235 E. Whitesboro St., rear, to McLiesh for $1,000.

• Ordinance 9555 authorizing the mayor to approve the sale of a city-owned parcel on Oriskany Road to Stephen Goracy for $1,000.

• Ordinance 9556 authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement and approve the sale of city-owned parcel 1103 Cedarbrook Drive for $34,500.

• Ordinance 9557 authorizing the mayor to enter into a rehabilitation agreement and approve the sale of city-owned parcel 1770 N. George St. for $125,000.

• Ordinance 9558 authorizing the mayor to enter into a Rehabilitation Agreement and approve the sale of city-owned parcel 6315 Lamphear Road for $50,000.

• Ordinance 9559 authorizing an additional $2.2 million in city serial bonds toward the Railroad Street Interceptor Upgrades Project for acquisition and installation of original furnishings, equipment, machinery or apparatus and environmental, engineering, feasibility and other studies, at an estimated new total cost of $16.2 million.

• Ordinance 9560 authorizing the mayor to execute a lease agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management for the lease of one 2022 Ford F-150 for a five-year term, for city operations.


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