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Lavine calls for hiring 50 additional Syracuse police officers

Tom Magnarelli
A damaged window of the Syracuse police substation at Skiddy Park.

The Republican candidate running for mayor of Syracuse says if elected, she would hire 50 additional police officers for the city. Laura Lavine blasted the city’s violent crime rate, calling it a bigger sign of Syracuse’s decline.

Standing in front of a bullet-ridden, Skiddy Park police substation, renovated after a deadly riot on Father’s Day last year, Lavine said the station is staffed so sporadically that shooters fire upon it with little fear of getting caught.

“Current levels of police personnel are at record lows," Lavine said. "As mayor, I will increase the number of officers to make Syracuse safer.”

There are currently 420 police officers in Syracuse. Lavine said hiring more will mean extra time to conduct community policing.

“What that means is you have enough officers who will get to know the residents, get to know the youth by name," Lavine said. "Knock on the doors of businesses. Hi, I was here yesterday, anything new? What’s going on? We need those relationships. As it stands right now we have only four police officers assigned to bicycles. It’s not enough.”

Lavine blamed 16 years of Democratic control of city hall for Syracuse’s condition and said Democratic candidate Juanita Perez Williams and independent candidate Ben Walsh will only defend the status quo. State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) is a supporter of Lavine. He said nothing will change if the same people are elected.

"What does anybody have to lose by trying a candidate from a different party with common sense approaches to the problems," DeFrancisco said. "Try something that seems like a no-brainer to me. If crime is up, increase the police force, make sure community policing is available."

Syracuse had a record high homicide rate in 2016 but had lower levels of robberies, burglaries and aggravated assaults from the previous year.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.