Published in The
Daily Gazette , May 25, 2007
Council eyes gun violence solutions
BY MARY MARTIALAY Gazette Reporter
So far this month, there haven't been any murders in the city. Alderman
Dominick Calsolaro thinks there have been five injuries from gunfire,
but he's basing his information on newspaper accounts. He also doesn't
know how many people may have been threatened, pistol-whipped, mugged
at gunpoint, or how many "shots fired" reports have been
confirmed by pohce.
That, he said, is part of the problem.
"I think there have been 17 people injured since January from
gunshots. But I only have that from the paper. I don't know how many
there really are," Calsolaro said. Although the Albany police
department posts many crime statistics on its Web site, such incidents
are not included in the data.
Calsolaro introduced legislation this week that would require Albany
police to provide the Common Council with quarterly reports on gun-related
incidents in the city. The legislation was referred to the council's
Public Safety Committee where it joins another of Calsolaro's causes:
a gun violence task force.
"I've had many people come to me saying they want to be involved,
they want to do something," Calsolaro said. "They need
to get their hands on something and I thought this was a way to have
an organized group where people could come and talk to the issue
and for civilians to see a different perspective for law enforcement."
At Calsolaro's behest, several city and area residents appeared
at this week's Common Council meeting to support the legislation,
while Calsolaro made an appeal before the entire board for its release
Calsolaro said the Public Safety Committee, headed by chairman James
Scalzo, has dragged its heels on his initiatives because the city's
mayor and police chief don't support the legislation.
Scalzo contested Calsolaro's assertion, saying the delay is simply
a part of the legislative process.
"Dominick is completely out of line saying that," Scalzo
"I've bent over backwards trying to negotiate, had meetings
to do amendments to his good work."
Scalzo said his own legislation has takeni2ugerto~emerge from committee.
"He does have good ideas, and we're looking forward
to doing good work with him, the mayor and the chief of police, Scalzo
'We can expect in the next month or two to hear
about this in a public and open meeting," he said.
Mayor Gerald Jennings could not be reached for comment,
but a spokesman said the mayor "is extremely cognizant of the
issus associated with illegal guns and resulting gun violence," he
"In concert with Police Chief Tuffey and in his role as member
of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns task force, there is an evaluation
of exusting legislation coupled with an additional evaluation of
strategies that will bc targeted specifically to address this issue," said
Robert VanAmburgh, of the mayor's office.
Police Chief James Tuffey questions whether Calsolaro's initiatives
hit the heart of the matter, but said his department will participate
in whatever mechanism the council creates.
"If that law is passed we'll participate. I think it needs
to be broader—violence as a whole," Tuffey said. "But
if he tears into this we'll sit at the table, we'll give 110 percent
Tuffey said gun violence is just one manifestation of a societal
problem that needs a broader solution.
Tuffey said "in five years it's going to be worse if we don't
look at the societal breakdown and the core problem that's causing
these kids to go out and commit these acts."
Tuffey said he doesn't see how that problem can be solved by a gun
violence task force.
"Everyone wants a short-term solution, especially politicians.
There's no short-term solutions to the societal problems we're having
in this country now," Tuffey said.
Tuffey said few people realize the work his department puts into
tracking trends in crime and making connections between seemingly
"We're working very hard, these officers work very hard," Tuffey
Calsolaro said he's not criticizing police but wants to broaden
the players in the discussion.
"If it's a societal issue, why not involve the community?" Calsolaro
said. '~Ve know its a societal problem, we know its more than guns
why not involve the community and give people a vehicle to discuss
Supporters ofthe legislation echo Calsolaro's call for more community
involvement in the problems of gun violence.
"The community needs to come together and assert that there
is no way this can be totally solved by law enforcement," said
Leonard Morgenbesser, who holds a doctorate in criminal justice.
He has tracked media reports of gun violence in the city since September
"I don't think there's anyone who lives in this
city who hasn't picked up the paper and read about gun violence,
or in my case, attended the funeral of someone young," said
Archie Goodbee, a resident of Madison Avenue.
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