Charlie Cornacchio

Charlie Cornacchio

News Anchor

Randy Johnson requests aid from the NY State Police. Rob Rolison outlines Dutchess County support.

The recent surge of gun violence in the City of Poughkeepsie prompted a press conference from city Mayor John Tkazyik last Friday who announced an increase in city police patrols and the formation of a citizen patrol initiative.  Over the weekend, residents of Poughkeepsie spoke out with a rally, a march and a prayer vigil seeking a concentrated and unified effort from the government, the police, the education system and the clergy to alleviate the problem.

Today, both mayoral candidate Randy Johnson and the Dutchess County government stepped up with their plans to prevent additional shootings and determine a new direction for safety in the city. Mr. Johnson has made a request to the New York State Police to come in and assist the city’s police efforts. Here is the letter he sent to Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico last Friday:

July 24, 2015

Honorable Joseph D’Amico
New York State Police
1220 Washington Ave., Bldg. 22
Albany, NY 12226-2252

Dear Superintendent D’Amico:

My name is Randall Johnson and I’m writing regarding the escalating level of violence in the City of Poughkeepsie. Seven senseless shootings that had taken place within the last twenty four days in the City of Poughkeepsie. On July 21, 2015, at approximately 3:00 PM the sixth senseless tragedy occurred in our community. As a concerned parent of a 23 year old son, and a 17 year old daughter, a community activist and leader, homeowner, former Board of Education member, and a candidate for Mayor in the City of Poughkeepsie, I am respectfully requesting the assistance of the New York State Police to help end the violence in our city. We need the assistance of your agency to help strengthen the capacity of our community to reduce violence.

Superintendent D’Amico, the violence that has spread through our city started in late June 2015. These shootings have left four victims injured and at least two more dead. I am asking that the State Police get involved and render assistance to our local law enforcement. Our local police appear to have no leads in order to solve these murders. Your agency has the experience, highly trained personnel and a reputation for assisting communities in need of violence reduction. Many of these incidents are gang related and may encompass multi-jurisdictional investigations. We have a good police department but I am afraid they can’t do it alone.

I have listed below some of the incidents that have occurred in just the past month.
1. A 21 year old New Windsor man was shot in the leg on North Bridge Street on June 28th.
2. A 19 year old man suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his body on Palmer Avenue on June 29th.
3. A 21 year old male, was shot on Mansion Street on June 30th. The wound to the head proved fatal.
4. A 26 year old young man who was shot in the abdomen on Hooker Avenue on July 1st. 5. An 18 year old male was found collapsed on Mack Road with a wound to his side on July 3rd.
6. A man was shot dead on State Street on July 21th.
7. Just today, it was reported that a woman was grazed in the leg by a ricochet bullet at a Club on July 18th in the city.

The residents of the City of Poughkeepsie, need the immediate assistance of the New York State Police, in helping to protect our city from the violence that plagues our streets, families and community. There are many among us struggling to end this senseless violence and loss of life. I have no doubt more citizens will get involved once there is hope on the horizon. The state police is part of that hope. I believe our police department can successfully regain control of the streets with the help of your state troopers. All they need is additional manpower and resources to once again completely fulfill their mandate to serve and protect.

The State Police can provide the additional manpower and resources to assist our police officers and community in assuring the safety of all residents. Securing the public safety is the required first step in returning the City of Poughkeepsie to the “Queen City of the Hudson.” Once the safety of the public is secured, I am sure a comprehensive long term plan will be developed and implemented, to ensure all residents can safely build a life, raise a family, and fully participate in the American Dream.

In closing, I would ask that you consider this request prior to the violence escalating further. If you need to personally discuss this request I can be reached by calling 845-633-2290. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Randall Johnson Sr.

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman and Poughkeepsie mayoral candidate Rob Rolison

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison, also a candidate for mayor in Poughkeepsie,  jointly announced a series of measures the county will act on to support the city’s police force. Here is the statement released late Wednesday:

Poughkeepsie, NY – Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison (District 8 – City and Town of Poughkeepsie) was joined by County Executive Marc Molinaro today to announce additional resources to assist the City of Poughkeepsie in the wake of a recent string of shootings. The announcement follows a series of discussions with county and city leadership, law enforcement, community groups, and clergy organized by Molinaro and Rolison. Participants identified immediate crime-reduction needs for the City of Poughkeepsie as well as coordinated longer-term goals related to community development, among others.

“The city has asked for our help and Dutchess County responded. Given the seriousness of the recent gun-related violence, it was clear that a sustained solution required more than a sound bite. The input of community stakeholders was vital in developing a citywide response that could immediately be deployed to ensure the safety of our residents and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to fight crime. I am grateful to County Executive Molinaro for his leadership in our discussions with city officials and stakeholders from across Poughkeepsie,” said Rolison.

Actions to be undertaken include: 

  • Double number of joint patrols involving Sheriff’s Office and City of Poughkeepsie Police Department personnel in crime “hot spots.” 
  • Increase visibility of Sheriff’s Office deputies in and around county facilities to assist the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department. 
  • All county-assigned officers will be Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained and certified.
  • Provide Human Resource assistance to the city to speed up the timeframe to fill nine city police officer positions.
  • Fast-track approval for a new Crime Assistant position at the City of Poughkeepsie PD for identification, analysis, and problem-solving.
  • Deploy the county’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Team to strategic areas in coordination with City PD.
  • Increase law enforcement presence through additional alcohol enforcement (“bar checks”) in coordination with City of Poughkeepsie PD, District Attorney, and Probation.
  • Develop a sustained awareness and community development campaign that encourages use of the county’s 24/7 HELPLINE and 911 by businesses, nonprofits, civic groups, and concerned citizens when they observe behaviors that have the potential to escalate into a dangerous situation.

City of Poughkeepsie government is considering seeking home rule authority from the state Legislature to curb alcohol-related violence by reducing operating hours at city bars. Should the City Council adopt the resolution, County Executive Molinaro and Chairman Rolison will provide the support necessary to assist in getting the necessary home rule authority.

County Executive Molinaro said, “We are grateful to all of those who have come together over the last two days to provide important situational awareness and addressing both the reality and perception of what has occurred. We are committed to assisting and we want our actions to have long-term benefits. The recent events in the City of Poughkeepsie require a multi-faceted response and partnership between the City and the County that is both impactful and sustainable.”

Residents with information related to the recent shootings can call the City of Poughkeepsie’s Tip Line at 845-451-7577. Additional information about county Sheriff’s Office activities and responsibilities can be found here.

  1. The City of Poughkeepsie might want to consider asking the FBI for help as the increase in shootings sound more like turf wars. County officials should consider budgets that add after- school, weekend, and summer school programs, job training, career counseling, and drug/mental health rehab services. There needs to be more progressive thinking in order to save costs and lives or a $200 million plus new jail won’t be enough.

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