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UPD Union head says crime up 95%, Chief says more like 13%
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The head of the Utica Police Department union released what appears to be some scary statistics pointing to a huge increase in crime, blaming the city's administration for the spike. However, the Police Chief says while crime is up, it's not up by as much as the Union head claimed, and said it's not all the mayor's fault.
The Chief and the union head are in agreement on one thing, though, that morale on the department is pretty low. They disagree, however, on what or who is mostly responsible.
Union head Dominick Nitti says Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri drives a better, more expensive car than UPD investigators, courtesy of the Police Department's budget. Nitti says it comes as an officer who is budgeted for sits home, waiting for the call to get back to work.
Chief Mark Williams says that, all around, the department actually saved money on their total lease bill this year and that many are driving Ford Tauruses like the mayor. Chief Williams and Nitti part ways on just how much crime has increased in the city. Nitti says 95% while Chief Williams says the increase is closer to 13%.
Mayor Palmieri didn't directly respond to the union assertions on Tuesday, designating the police chief as his spokesperson. Chief Williams says he understands the union's frustration and doesn't see any improvement to the overall situation in the near future.
"Our patrol division is depleted down to bare minimum," Nitti said. "We have eight cars driving around in the city at one time running calls. They're going from call to call. They're not allowed to do proactive work because they're too busy running call to call."
"Everybody's on pins and needles here," Chief Williams said. "Everybody knows we're going into a new budget year and there's talks about more cuts and our younger officers, they don't know if they're going to have a job or not."
Nitti says that because morale is so low, seasoned officers count down the days to retirement and leave the second they have their 20 years in.