How Binghamton's next mayor plans to see a safer city

By Kelly McCarthy

October 14, 2013 Updated Oct 14, 2013 at 7:28 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When the next mayor of Binghamton takes office, he or she wants to see a safer city for all. Both candidates agree that the biggest problems facing Binghamton's public safety are drugs and gang violence.

Binghamton Police say the city's overall crime rate is up 30 percent from last year. Still, Democrat Teri Rennia believes the city is a safe place to live.

"Some of the problems we have to address are the perception that this is an unsafe city," Rennia said, "That perception comes from the recent increase, and it also just comes from the way the city looks. When you go into the neighborhoods and you see a block with two abandoned houses or boarded up windows, there's a perception it's unsafe even if there's never been a crime committed on that street."

Republican Rich David has his reservations.

"I'm concerned about the direction that Binghamton is heading in with regards to public safety," David said.

David's focus will be putting more feet on the ground to patrol the city.

"What I am proposing is that we steadily, over time add police officer positions to the budget each year until we restore the number to 148 which is where we were 8 years ago."

Rennia said adding more officers is in her short-term plan.

"Here's a short term help and that is that we are going to put some extra officers, one per shift on the road," Rennia said, "Long term if we really want to have a permanent impact we need to change how we police, it's going to be focused on a community model."

Rennia said that model involves greater use of the Binghamton Police Community Response Team. The CRT is a small task force currently made up of one sergeant and four officers.

"All of our patrols in particular, all of our officers but especially all of our patrols," Rennia said, "Should be following this more community-oriented policing model, and that would be out of the cars, talking to community members, learning about the neighborhoods."

David believes improving public safety will take more than just focusing on policing.

"I think we need a comprehensive law enforcement strategy that quite frankly expands outside the police department itself," David said,"I'd like to look at economic development and code enforcement and the tools there to help supplement our public safety efforts."

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