I am writing to you, our residents, business owners, and visitors, to talk about the Shotspotter Gunfire Detection System and our upcoming ballot question in the November election.
As many of us have discussed, our community has made real progress against the tide of violent crime and shootings that gripped our neighborhoods in 2014 and 2015. It was during that time that we experienced an unprecedented increase in daylight shootings in our central business district and even at a football practice with young children. Those incidents drove us to action as a department and, more importantly, as a community.
In response to the increased violence, our department reassigned personnel to crime suppression units and violent crime investigation units, while at the same time our partners in the Fellowship of Churches, Pleasantville Police Community Advisory Board, Police Chaplains, and the Coalition for a Safe Community engaged in our neighborhoods to get witnesses to come forward and talk to our dedicated officers. The good news is that those efforts were successful and crime, especially violent crime, is down dramatically in our City.
Unfortunately, these efforts forced us to strip our community policing units of cops and commanders in order to dedicate those resources to the fight against violent crime. We have all seen that this decreased focus on quality of life issues have resulted in an increase in aggressive panhandlers and other nuisance problems that make our community, and especially our central business district, feel less safe.
We have worked with City Council to identify funding to add a few positions to the Community Policing Unit which will patrol the areas of our community most impacted by these quality of life problems. We also plan to transfer experienced officers to this unit from elsewhere in the department, but we know that if we do not make some substantial changes in the way we address violent crime, we will be doomed to repeat those difficult times of increased violence.
In order to maintain the gains we have made against violent crime, and increase the presence of our Community Policing Unit, we need to leverage some technology in place of boots on the ground. We have a plan to cover our city with a net of Shotspotter sensors to detect gunfire in seconds and allow our officers to respond immediately, and directly, to the site of every incident of gunfire in Pleasantville. We have done our homework and are very confident that this system is the right fit at the right time to keep our community safe and allow our small department to focus on all of the issues confronting our residents in the way you expect and you deserve.
We will host our first information session on September 10 at the Pleasantville Middle School and hope that all of our residents and business owners will make time to attend. We will have experts on hand from Shotspotter, Mayor Tweedle and City Council, Community Leaders, and of course the command staff of the Pleasantville Police Department to talk about what the system is and how it will dramatically improve our capabilities in the event of a shooting incident.
We hope to see you there!
Chief of Police
Pleasantville Police Department