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Utica officials to meet regarding restoration of certain UPD positions

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - He understands the city of Utica's predicament and he made the cuts dictated by a difficult budget year, but that doesn't mean Police Chief Mark Williams feels the cuts haven't compromised public safety in the city.

"The cuts to the police department went too deep, to the point where I lack supervision," says Chief Mark Williams.

The chief adds that, with a young department lacking in supervision, the city could end up losing, not saving money.

"They'll be spending more in terms of liability claims filed against the city, because the number one issue that's brought up in all of these notices of claims is lack of supervision," says Chief Williams.

The decimated power structure at UPD bodes badly for the Oneida County District Attorney's Office, which relies on evidence collected by UPD in order to prosecute crimes in the city.

"It is a dire situation and that's why we're willing to do what we're willing to do," says District Attorney Scott McNamara.

What McNamara and County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. are willing to do is offer $100,000 to the city of Utica for the purpose of keeping a UPD investigator on the Child Advocacy Center, which investigates sex crimes against children, restore two UPD officers to the Oneida County Drug Task Force and restore five UPD officers to their former command positions.

"We were going to use the money to upgrade the drug task force. At this point, we're not doing that. Right now, we need to worry about the police and updating a building and putting a new roof on isn't the priority right now," says District Attorney McNamara.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says he believes the move would be in the best interest of the city and that it shows what teamwork on behalf of the city and county could accomplish. The mayor approached the council regarding the county money and says he's garnished the minimum five votes on the council required to pass the measure.

The chief, county executive and district attorney will make a formal presentation to the common council on Thursday.

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