UTICA, N.Y. -- The city of Utica is dealing with the persistent and potentially deadly problem of shots fired...and fired...and fired.
In 2019, Utica Police responded to 101 confirmed reports of shots fired -- roughly one every three and a half days. Last year, 29 people were hit by gunfire. So far this year, from Jan. 1 through the week of Feb. 11-15, reports of shots fired averaged one every 2.8 days.
"It's alarming, it makes me angry, it makes me think we need to act now, we need to act strongly and we need to do whatever it takes to get these guns of the streets," says Delvin Moody, a recent college graduate who returned home, to Utica, to make a diffference in his community and is now the fifth ward city councilman. Moody is one of about two dozen people gathered at Utica City hall Thursday morning for a press conference announcing a Solutions Summit, spearheaded by the city's Access & Inclusion Committee.
Utica Police Chief Mark Williams explains that, sometimes, they come in waves.
"In some ways it's not surprising because of the fact when we have unsolved shootings they usually lead to other, retaliatory shootings," said Williams. "And that's why we take every shots fired call very serious, because we're trying to avoid the next shooting."
Williams said the city has looked at emerging technology that detects the sound of gunfire and notifies police immediately, and that other cities have had luck with the service, often arriving at the scene in time to make an arrest before the suspect leaves. But the technology is expensive and could be cost prohibitive.
"It's almost $500,000 just to get the equipment installed and it's another $179,000 a year just for the software upgrades and fees," says Chief Williams.
Most of those at city hall for the Solutions Summit announcement feel that being proactive, not reactionary, is the best approach; getting to the bottom of why some young people chose violence.
"One of the greatest things that have come up was the lack of activities or recreational things for a lot of the younger people to do," says Moody.
The Chief, Moody, other public safety officials, prosecutors and community partners will be at the Summit, Saturday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Utica's Parkway Recreation Center.