Utica Police Chief : Hard to celebrate this year

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y.(WKTV) Warm weather and the fact that St. Patrick's Day itself is on Saturday this year, may have made for one of the biggest crowds in Utica history for the annual St. Patrick;'s Day Parade Saturday morning.

Among those marching in the parade down Genesee Street, Utica Police Chief Mark Williams, who enjoys the event every year, but this year, he says it is tough to be in a celebratory mood, but he appreciates all of the good comments by parade-goers, "the parade is on the heels of last night's talks about cuts. The support of the people say keep your heads up, supporting the police department clapping, so very warm to feel that."

Friday night, the Utica Common Council released it's version of the 2012-2013 budget and with it and increase in job loss to keep taxes down. 12 firefighters and 23 police officers would lose their jobs unless some last minute negotiations can be made.

Chief Williams said there are some things going on behind the scenes this weekend, but didn't elaborate much, "the union and the attornies for the city are still in contract talks and we'll see how that goes."

The Common Council will meet again on Tuesday to finalize this year's budget.

Chief Williams is hoping negotiations will take place before Tuesday, not only to avoid losing so many young men and women, but keeping as many as possible will keep the city safer for residents.

The party moved to Varick Street after the parade and the crowd there may have been an alltime high for attendance as well.

Chief Williams said it appeared to be busier than ever before.

Corinne Comito of Utica comes every year, "it's so much fun, everybody sees everybody cause Utica's small, it's the one day everyone sees everyone it's great."

Nicholas Gentile, also of Utica, says he hopes the police officers and firefighters can somehow keep their jobs, "great people, doing a great job, love em all."

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