UTICA, N.Y. -- Sometimes, Utica police officers encounter illegal guns on the street every shift. Much of the time, they're in the hands of children. Officer Wesley Jackson remembers every detail of a chilling traffic stop this summer, with a minor from Florida, with ties to Utica.
“He went to reach for his waistband and at this time, I grabbed the loaded weapon at the same time he did and after we subdued the individual and got him in our custody, he said he was planning on shooting me,” says Officer Jackson.
It's because of increasingly common incidents like this one that Utica mayor, Robert Palmieri, is proposing adding five officers to the Utica Police Department, specifically to combat gun violence. The mayor met with the governor and other New York mayors today. They talked about gun violence; a blight they all share
“Our numbers are nowhere near some of the other cities that are out there. We don't want to wait for it to get to that point," says Mayor Palmieri.
Utica Police took 87 illegal guns of city streets last year. An average of nearly eight a month.
“You’ll never be able to measure the amount of homicides or shootings that they prevented by taking those 87 guns off the streets,” says Utica Police Chief, Mark Williams.
The proposed five added UPD officers would be paid for by American Rescue Plan money. That runs out in 2024, at which time the common council would have to decide whether the city continues to pay for them, or, to eliminate them through attrition. The mayor will present legislation to add the five officers, to the common council. They control the police are fire departments' size. In the meantime, Officer Jackson and all his colleagues willingly face danger every day for the community they serve, because…
“Our community needs real heroes, and the men and women who put on this uniform, I think we're the heroes for the community, along with the individuals in the community we work with that help out to combat this gun violence," says Officer Jackson.