YONKERS,NY, July 13, 2010 — I have said time and again how the Yonkers Police Department is terribly understaffed. The 2010 budget included 641 police officers; a very low number compared to several cities our size. Now, due to severe budget cuts we are budgeted for a mere 587 officers, which in my opinion puts our city at risk.
One example of how dangerously understaffed the YPD is can be seen on the “late tour” or the 11pm-7am and 12am – 8am shifts. On this shift there are only slightly more than 40 total police officers patrolling the streets of Yonkers. In comparison, on the same shift there are 78 Yonkers firefighters working in the city. This is not to knock the YFD, every one of these firefighters are needed. It’s only to offer perspective.
The following is an example of what the men and women of the Yonkers Police Department have to deal with during one shift. On Friday night, July 9 into Saturday morning, July 10 from 11pm -8am there were 154 calls of service, which included 3 calls of gunshots fired. Several of these 154 calls were never responded to due to lack of manpower. This is a snapshot of this past Friday night.
· At 11:38pm 3 males forced their way into an apartment at 203 Hawthorne Ave. armed with a shotgun and handguns. The homeowner was struck in the head with the shotgun causing a head wound. The residents were robbed by the suspects, who then fled the scene. The suspects were not apprehended but 12 separate patrol units were utilized for this call including at least one from the east side 1st Pct.
· At 11:41pm 3rd Pct. Units responded to 163 Linden St. on a report of a large crowd in a vacant apartment. Upon arrival they heard yelling and screaming and what sounded like two shots fired. 14 separate patrol units were forced to respond due to the size and nature of the crowd, including 3 from the east side 2nd Pct. and 2 from the 1st Pct. Eight people were arrested in this melee, tying up officers for hours.
· At 2:10am a man broke into an apartment at 67 Cliff Ave. The residents discovered the man, chased him out of the apartment and he was caught by a 3rd Pct. supervisor. This call was handled by 3rd Pct. and 2nd Pct. supervisors due to the unavailability of patrol cars.
· At 2:32am Housing officers responded to 8 Schroeder St. (Schlobohm) on a report of 6 to 7 gunshots fired. No one was found shot but it’s important to note that Housing police were only working because of extra shifts called for because of recent shootings.
· At 3:55am 3rd Pct. units responded to the corner of St. Andrews Pl. and Gray Pl. on reports of several shots fired. No one was hit by the gunfire but several shell casings were recovered and one vehicle was damaged.
· At 4:18am 3rd Pct units responded to 80 Saratoga Ave. on a report of a man with a machete. While investigating this call a large crowd gathered and turned on the police, people throwing things at police from the rooftops. Due to the violent nature and size of the crowd EVERY available unit in the city was called to the scene. Several people were arrested and 6 Yonkers Police Officers were injured.
· At 4:59am YPD received a call of a person stabbed at 86 Hamilton Ave. No west side units were available which forced 1st Pct. officers to handle this call in which 3 males pushed their way into the victim’s apartment and slashed one of the residents in the face with a knife. The residents were robbed and the suspects fled the apartment.
This is just a brief overview of the night of Friday, July 9. I have not included a number of other robberies and assaults. In particular there was one knifepoint robbery that happened at 2:45am but was not responded to until 11:30am, due to the overload of calls combined with not enough police officers. For those who live on the east side of Yonkers that think that west side violence does not affect them, they are wrong. All too often 1st and 2nd Pct. police officers are forced to respond to handle west side calls, often leaving the east side unprotected.
The mayor's budget has called for the elimination of more than 8 million dollars in funding to the Yonkers Police Department, much more than any department. This has resulted in the elimination of 54 police positions and the collapsing of many important, much needed special units. Please call your Councilperson and demand that these cuts be restored.
Chuck Lesnick, City Council President– 377-6060
Patricia D. McDow, Majority Leader, (District 1) -377-6311
John M. Murtagh, Minority Leader, (District 5) -377-6315
Wilson Terrero, Councilmember, (District 2) -377-6312
Joan Gronowski, Councilmember, (District 3) -377-6313
Dennis Shepherd, Councilmember, (District 4) -377-6314
John Larkin, Councilmember, (District 6) – 377-6316
Det. Keith Olson is president of the Yonkers PBA.