This past Tuesday, May 13, I attended a community meeting at Columbus School in New Rochelle, organized by Councilman Lou Trangucci and Principal Sonia Nunez, relating to recent violent incidents in our city’s West End. I heard powerful commentary at the meeting from my constituents, as well as from New Rochelle police officers that attended. There was a large attendance of parents of kids attending Columbus School. The majority of speakers testified about the increasing crime in this area. For example, there were recent shootings and the arrest of a man wielding a machete.
It’s clear that a primary cause of crime in this neighborhood is rooted in the sale of drugs. Some parents stated they were scared to let their kids walk to a nearby store because of the prevalence of drug dealers. The police officers shared their knowledge about the drug activity in the West End. Frankly, I was very sad to hear this testimony, and in particular about the drug dealers. No neighborhood should ever have to deal with this.
When I spoke, I emphasized that we are all in this together and that when the people in this neighborhood notice a crime taking place they must immediately report it to our police. We cannot look the other way or the criminals will escalate their activity, worsening a bad situation. The police officers advised that it’s better to call directly to the New Rochelle Police Department at 654-2300 instead of using 911. Some people were nervous about calling the police because they feared reprisals from the drug dealers, and I told the audience to call my home phone at 636-1621, so that I can call the police for them. Councilman Trangucci did the same. The police also stressed that it’s very helpful to pass on the name and/or description of the drug dealers, since that makes it easier to catch them. Based on what I heard at this meeting, we must explore setting up a “Neighborhood Crime Watch” for the West End.
The drug dealers are a serious problem and must be aggressively attacked by law enforcement and other resources in the New Rochelle government. I will also contact county and state officials to explore ways they can help. I am committed to helping the residents of the West End by exposing and defeating the criminals operating in this neighborhood.
A few speakers had some criticism for our police force, but I stressed that New Rochelle’s police force is understaffed, but still the finest in Westchester County. Lastly, I informed the many Spanish speaking residents in the crowd that they can call a member of my staff who speaks Spanish at 995-2016 to discuss any of their concerns.
Our elected officials, police officers and residents must all work together to combat crime throughout New Rochelle, and we must dedicate ourselves to defeating the criminals that damage our quality of life. I loathe these parasite drug dealers that profit while destroying people’s lives, target young people and operate in neighborhoods where they think people will not stand up for themselves, but by pulling together, we can remove them from the West End.
Jim Maisano is Vice Chair of Westchester Board of Legislators. He represents District 11 covering New Rochelle and Pelham. You can follow Jim on Facebook, Twitter or his website. You can contact Jim at 914-636-1621 or [email protected]