Public safe, insist police, mayor

Due to budget cuts, the city police force recently was cut. Currently, the city employs 47 officers – two less than the number allotted by the city’s new budget.

However, even in light of the recent homicide, authorities maintain that the police force is adequately staffed and that public safety still is the No. 1 priority for Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and his administration.

“Traditionally, these types of crimes are not random shootings. The actors are not law-abiding citizens,” Campana said, before adding that may or may not be the case with this victim.

“This is certainly not a time for the public to panic. The city is safer now than it was five years ago,” he added.

Officers worked through the night, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.

However, the investigation still is in its beginning stages.

“At this time, I do not feel comfortable discussing motive with the press. We’re just not that far along in the investigation yet. We have numerous leads to follow up on,” said city police Cpt. Timothy Miller.

“I have guys on the force who still haven’t gone home, who were called back in last night after the shooting and are still working,” he added.

The mayor echoed Miller’s sentiment and praised the bureau’s dedication.

“We have individuals on this force who are willing to work harder and longer and stay (at) it through the night rather than go home to their families,” Campana said.

“We also have very talented people in charge of the force. There is no one I would rather trust the safety of this city to,” he added.

But, Campana also said he stands by his decision to cut the number of police officers on the force.

“I don’t believe we’re low on officers. We can’t have an officer on every corner of the city; it’s not fiscally realistic,” Campana said.

“I have never heard an officer complain that the force is understaffed. We will be a smaller, stronger police force and work more efficiently,” he added.

This stands in direct contrast to another statement made by Campana in July, when discussing the struggles police face and the importance of solving the city’s seven outstanding cold cases.

“I believe our police force is understaffed. I added one officer when I came into office, and we’re hoping to add two more. That would bring our total to 54,” Campana said.

“If you speak to most people in law enforcement, they will tell you they need more manpower. That’s why I’ve been advocating adding more police officers,” he added.

The federal grant for more officers was not received.