SYRACUSE, NY The president of Syracuse’s Police Benevolent Association is calling for more cops on the street, in the wake of a violent stretch in the city. Over the 4th of July weekend, 10 people were shot in a 24-hour span.
In a letter to the editor on Syracuse.com, PBA president Jeff Piedmonte suggests residents contact Mayor Stephanie Miner, urging her to hire 50 more police officers. Piedmonte says there are currently 417 police officers on the streets, the lowest number since the 1970s. He says that’s dangerously low, especially at a time of an uptick in crime.
Miner says that’s a typical response from the police union. “That’s what a union leader does, tries to get more members, more dues paying members,” said Miner. “And Mr. Piedmonte has submitted several letters to the editor over my tenure and each time he’s asked for more police officers to be hired. The issues we’ve had with violence far surpasses just doing a ratio of police officers to crime.”
Miner says adding cops is a complicated matter with the city looking at how retirements, pension costs and health care costs are projected budget wise. And at this point the city just can’t afford it. In the meantime, Miner says the city is using the cops it has, efficiently.
“We’ve taken more police officers out of the [Public Safety] Building and put them on the streets,” she said. “We’ve used more information technology, deployed more tools like cameras and computers and software projections.”
The city did include funding for 25 new police officers in last year’s budget. Still there are more than double that number in vacancies in the police department due to recent retirements.