City seeks public help in curbing gun violence

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L-R Dutchess County Chief ADA Matt Weishaupt, Mayor Rolison, Police Captain Minard. Mid-Hudson News file photo.

POUGHKEEPSIE – City Mayor Rob Rolison joined Police Chief Tom Pape and others to address a rise in gun violence that has plagued the city.  The press conference came a little more than twelve hours after a 16-year-old male was shot on Smith Street early Monday morning.

Chief Pape said During the past year, gun violence has been on the rise nationally and locally – here in the City of Poughkeepsie this year there have been 33 confirmed shots fired incidents resulting in two homicides, six shootings with injury victims, and nine properties were damaged by gunfire.”

Rolison, frustrated by the increase in gun violence called Thursday’s arrest of four individuals, one who is wanted for a New Jersey murder, an action that “Will put a serious dent in gun violence in the city.”  The Mid Hudson News story on that arrest can be found here.

Rolison and Pape both stressed that the city’s top priority is public safety.  “I want people to understand that the top priority of this government is public safety.  Without public safety, it doesn’t matter what else you do,” said Rolison.  Chief Pape noted that his department is receiving the support and resources of several partners to combat gun violence.  An agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has an agent embedded in his department and the department is working with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, New York State Police, Dutchess County Drug Rask Force, Town of Poughkeepsie Police, Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, and others.  “As you can see, we can’t do it alone,” proclaimed Pape.

Poughkeepsie Police Chief Tom Pape.

Mayor Rolison indicated that lack of cooperation by victims and witnesses after a shooting is a major impediment to solving the cases and prosecuting the offenders.  “I want the public to know that coming forward with information is so important to stopping these crimes from occurring again,” said Rolison.  Pape concurred, noting that many gunshot victims and witnesses refuse to cooperate.  “When a victim doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t mean we pack up and go home,” said Pape.  “We still deploy all of our resources necessary to investigate the shooting, including crime scene work and shell casing analysis, and re-interviewing witnesses.”

Pape continued to seek the public’s help in preventing further violence, by encouraging people to speak to the police anonymously.  “If the information is given to us anonymously, it will remain anonymous for our purposes.”  The Chief said that tips can be called in to 845-451-7577 or provided at the online link found here.  The city’s top cop reiterated that people can get cash for their information.  “We will pay $250 to anyone who provides information that leads to the recovery of an illegal gun and $500 for information that leads to an arrest of a person possessing an illegal gun.”