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Batavia's top cops offer more information in proposed 'neighborhood sweeps'

One of the keys to what officials are calling a neighborhood sweep program in Batavia is to give law-abiding residents a safe outlet for sharing with cops what they're seeing on their blocks.

While explaining further the program to The Batavian today, Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chief Rob Yaeger, used the example of "Granny Smith" and how she'll benefit from the program and interact with police.

"She's going to have a police officer come up to her door and talk to her, because, you know, Granny Smith is probably the lady that says, 'I don't want to bother the cops. They've got so much better things to worry about,' " Yaeger said. "Or she's going to be one of those says, 'if I say anything, they (the criminals) are going to know it's me.' We're going to talk to everybody on the street so nobody can be singled out so somebody can say, 'that's the one who said something.' "

Contrary to previous reports, Heubusch said, the police aren't coming in and locking down a neighborhood for two or three hours. People will be able to come and go -- maybe not without being asked to show an ID -- and the sweeps will be over quickly.

"That's one of the keys to this -- giving people the outlet to come and talk to us," Heubusch said. "Like Rob said, there are people won't call us because they don't want to bother us, or they won't call us because they're concerned about what might happen to them. Well, if you've got a whole neighborhood willing to make that connection right there, in person, face to face, without any fear of retribution, that's going to embolden or empower people to come forward with more information in the future."

The timing for the program, perhaps, couldn't be better, the city's two top cops said.

In recent months there've been reports of shots fired on State Street and on Jackson Street, an armed robbery on Jackson, armed robberies of local hotels and an alleged burglar picked up this week off Park Avenue while carrying a loaded handgun.

The gun play is getting worse and worse and worse," Yaeger said. "We need to stop this and clean it up now."

The program is inspired by a series of neighborhood sweeps instituted in Buffalo. Law enforcement and municipal leaders there have met with Batavia officials and are providing ongoing consulting.  The sweeps have been very, very successful in Buffalo, Yaeger said.

"The chief in Buffalo told me, 'if we had started this program 20 years ago, we wouldn't be having the problems we have now,' " Yaeger said. "It's been very, very successful for them and the citizens absolutely love it."

It's been so successful and so well received in Buffalo, Yaeger said, local residents should wait to see it implemented in Batavia before passing judgment.

"In Buffalo, the neighborhoods love it," Yaeger said. "The block clubs love it. You'll see, once it's been tried here, the neighborhood will love it. There will be positive reviews."

The sweeps won't just include police officers. There will also be code enforcement officers, parole and probation officers, animal control officers and representatives of other government agencies. 

"It's going to be like one of those national night out events where everybody comes out for a meet and greet," Yaeger said. "They're going to get to know the cops, get some of their issues addressed -- 'I don't know who to call, who can help.' It's not like we're showing up in SWAT gear saying, 'OK, who are you hiding in there?' Nothing like that. It's going to be positive."

Neighborhoods selected for sweeps will be chosen based on data -- increased numbers of calls for service, more reports of criminal activity and perhaps one particular house known to be a cause of trouble or specific individuals in a neighborhood police believe will be causing problems.

In most cases, in fact, police might have one or two or three known troublemakers they hope to locate in a particular neighborhood, which is why a street might be closed to vehicle traffic, making it harder for targeted individuals to slip out without detection.

The sweeps will be completely unannounced for that reason, as well.

Heubusch agreed with City Manager Jason Molino who said part of the goal is for law enforcement to be a nuisance for those who are being a nuisance.

"That's one of the things that is often over looked in policy today," Heubusch said. "Because we're often inundated with calls, officers are often tied up on other things, so to go out and do that proactive police work where you're just bothering the people who are bothering us is tough to do sometimes. So you put together details like this and it gives our officers the opportunity to be a bit of a nuisance for the people who are being a nuisance."

For civil libertarians, Heubusch said the police officers will obey the law and department regulations, which means a person can't be forced to provide identification or detained without probable cause. 

Of course, police officers can pretty much tell when somebody is refusing to provide identification on principal compared to the guy who won't provide identification because he has something to hide, and will react -- within the limits of the law -- accordingly.

The sweeps themselves, it's not a hostile takeover of a neighborhood," Heubusch said. "We're not going to be shutting Granny Smith in her house so she can't go get her medication or go see her granddaughter in a play or anything like that. It's going to be targeted enforcement in specific areas to try and squash the criminal activity."

scott williams
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One of the biggest problems in batavia will not be addressed with this and that is the lack of landlords being involved with this. Code inforcement writting violations will not do squat to the landlords who in some cases are just as bad as criminals for allowing it to happen. If a landlord is hosting a problem property or Pathstone section -8 housing has clients who are problems then the landlord or Pathstone should be violated also and not by sticking a notice on a door that a tennant just rips down. The city needs to put teeth in landlord rules and housing agencys they need to be held accountable After three violations they loose their right to operate as a landlord or agency in our community then lets see how quick they respond.
The innocent neighbors should not have to be asked for I.D. while these dirtbag landlords are home enjoying their familys.

Beth Kinsley
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A previous article which I believe was quoting Molino, stated: The sweeps will involve closing down a neighborhood for two or three hours so nobody gets in or out ....

That is very different from "People will be able to come and go -- maybe not without being asked to show an ID -- and the sweeps will be over quickly."

Has the plan now changed or did Molino get it wrong?

Mark Brudz
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Molino got it wrong Beth, Like I said on the other thread, if it is patterned after what they are doing in Buffalo, it is going to be a very good thing.

Buffalo has been praised across the nation for the way they are doing this, and I know from many business contacts there, the people in the neighborhoods do not just like it, they love it.

Especially the elderly.

Lori Silvernail
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Howard or Billie, any idea why the stories pretty much say "0 comments", yet there are actually comments? It's hard to follow new posts on previous conversations by using the recent comments on the left hand side of the page. Thanks!

Mark Potwora
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Sounds like they are walking back the first statements on this about locking down the street for 3 hours.Realized that the public didn't like that part..

In one part he says...People will be able to come and go -- maybe not without being asked to show an ID --

Then toward the end he says....For civil libertarians, Heubusch said the police officers will obey the law and department regulations, which means a person can't be forced to provide identification or detained without probable cause. What does he mean for civil libertarians?This is for all citizens .Its illegal to ask for ID for no reason at all .

Which one is it..Does this policy have to be ok'ed by city council?

Mark Brudz
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"It is not illegal for a law enforcement officer to ask you to present ID", where did you ever get that from? And please do not cite the constitution, because it is not in there anywhere. Asking for ID does NOT constitute a search.

A Law Enforcement officer asking for ID of a person is dictated by policy, prudence and the officer's judgment, not the constitution. It is an entire different matter if he demanded to search you, your car or house.

Stopping a person that is not a suspect, or if you are a potential witness is called a "Terry Stop" based on a Supreme Court Decision in 1968 Terry v Ohio. The officer can ask you your name, your address, your age and request you present your ID.

That withstanding, you are within your rights to ask whether you are under arrest or not, and if you are suspect to a crime. Whether or not you have to provide that ID varies from state to state.

In New York State, an officer can ask you to identify yourself, but you are not obligated to provide that information unless you are an actual suspect in a crime and so informed by the officer.

New York Court of Appeals People v. DeBour. There are 4 basic levels of inquiry, which are as follows:

Level 1: Level one is a request for information. At this level, police officers are essentially allowed to approach individuals and ask questions relating to identity or destination – provided that the officers do not act on whim or caprice and have an articulable reason not necessarily related to criminality for making the approach ( note that although police are allowed to ask for identification at this level, one is not required to provide it).

Level 2: Level two is a common law inquiry. At this level the officer is no longer merely asking for information and indeed, the person approached might reasonably discern from the officer’s questions that he or she is suspected of wrongdoing. This level of encounter must be supported by founded suspicion that criminality is afoot.

Level 3: Level three is the forcible stop and frisk. At this level the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a particular person was involved in a crime before he can forcibly stop and detain that person. Additionally, the officer is authorized to frisk the suspect if he reasonably suspects that he is in danger of physical injury by virtue of the detainee being armed. The term “reasonable suspicion” has been interpreted to mean the “quantum of knowledge sufficient to induce ordinarily prudent and cautious person under circumstances to believe that criminal activity is at hand” (here, as is true at level 4, police can forcibly require identification. It should be noted that their reasonable suspicion/probable cause can be completely incorrect, but as long as a judge deems it was reasonable under the circumstances then the police have acted properly.)

Level 4: Lastly, at level 4, once probable cause exists a police officer may place a person under arrest

Christopher Putnam
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Your going to ID me to leave my neighborhood? DUCK YOU! DUCK YOU HARD AND LONG AND DEEP!
You have no right to ask me for identification, until you have reasonable suspicion that I have committed a crime. Since Leaving, Driving though, or entering a "neighborhood" is not a crime YET, You will not be seeing my ID.

This stinks of nazi germany, or stalinist russia. Whats next you wankers, you want me to wear a little patch on my shirt with my neighborhood clearly marked on it, so you can tell if im one of the "bad" or "good" ones?

John Roach
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Christopher,
He also said you did not have to give him the ID if asked. You did read that part?

Kyle Couchman
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Ok Scott I see your point. However who is going to house the other people in these Landlord's homes when they are shut down. For instance slumlord A has a house on State St that has 4, 2 bedroom apartments. One apt has a "troublemaker" so they go hit these "code violations" and shut down the bldg. That leaves 3 tenants and their families that if they were tolerating the landlord's apathy and the neighbor's troublemaking arent really in a financial condition to find other places. What do you do with them?

Make problems for these slumlords and they move on, leaving an opening for more to come in. Ever hear of the saying ...better the devil you know, then the one you do not? You can nail these landlords in other ways. Heavy fines for non-compliance. These fines if not paid can be added to tax bills for collection. If it goes that far THEN the city can take over the property for non payment of taxes then auction it off. Or if someone in the city Govt is really enterprising they can form a property management firm and reap the profits a landlord would have, and add a plus column to the city's budget.

Just thoughts but the kicking out of landlords is a knee jerk reaction that leaves far more negative effects than it does positives.

Kyle Couchman
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Judging from Mr. Putnam's response, he would not co-operate even if there was cause for him to produce his id. I truly feel sorry for Christopher as his attitude would truly be a roadblock to his safety and welfare if he should ever find himself in need of police assistance.

Christopher Putnam
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Yeah i saw that. It just really galls me that they would even think of doing that. I guess im one of these "civil libertarians" because even the thought of doing that is offensive to me. What about people that dont have ID, or that are not carrying it with them. I keep my ID in the car...because i have never needed it while walking or biking... Im just worried. How far is too far for this "safety" they keep preaching to us. Its for our safety... well ok now the police are going to be setting up checkpoints and checking IDs...then its cameras, whats next?
Little patches on our jackets?
No more blinds on your windows?
When i was 22, a cop stopped me out front of Center Street pub, where i was taking a break from drinking to smoke and enjoy the summer air with my gf. He asked me for ID, i told him i didnt have it. He got belligerent and said to me "so you came to a bar without your ID?'(the employee's all know me,and craig did too. RIP) I asked him why he needed my ID and i was told "I dont need to have a reason, im a police officer and you have to follow my lawful orders" When i explained to him that i knew my rights, and since i had committed no crime, he had no cause to see my ID, he got even more visibly upset. At this point i turned my back on him and entered the bar with the thought "if this guy wants to get all crazy power trip on me Im going to make sure there is lots of witnesses"
He made the smart move and left. It could have easily gone south quickly, and i would rather not be put in that situation again. The police are there to PROTECT and TO SERVE. ID ing people leaving a neighborhood does not PROTECT or SERVE anyone.
Here is a bit of advice. You want to be safe, see to your own safety. You want to be protected, see to your own protection. If you think that the police keep you safe and protected your living in a fantasy world. They clean up the mess and arrest the bad guy if he is still around. What keeps me safe? MY FiveSeveN and my good sense in avoiding unsafe places.

Lori Silvernail
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Thanks, Howard. I figured it was just a bugger boo!

Kyle Couchman
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Christopher that seems very sensible to me had I gone through that I too would share a little of your apprehension. However like any organization there are those people who aren't well suited to the work they do and carry things too far. They should be dealt with on a case by case basis but when they are police it's a little harder to deal with.

scott williams
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Yes Mark they are walking backwards or it was reported wrong. You know why we didn't have these neighborhood lock downs in the past? because the police knew everyone in town and where they lived, I'm not sure where that has changed along the way I tend to think it is because cops aren't as approachable as they once were, I for one along with many other people found our cops to be rude and arrogant at the public during the council meetings for the trash problem last year. The problem I have also with this is if you don't support what they want to do are you going to be harassed by them for other things in the future? The cops in this city know all to well who the trouble makers are and where it is they hang out at, if I am leaving my neighborhood and you cant tell who I am by my license plate then why is it on the car. And if there is a criminal leaving on foot they dam sure will not walk by the cops. So with this said its just another form of a policed state and no innocent person should take part in it, if a resident wants to come out and approach a cop and introduce themselves that is a different story.

Kyle: If a landlord system is put into effect that said a landlord would no longer be able to practice landlord business in the city of Batavia if their property was cited more than two times in a year and more than three cop visits pertaining to crime within three years we would have landlords stepping up and doing whatever it took to be responsible THEY WANT THE CASH! And as far as the tenants having to move well if their not responsible enough to stay out of trouble then they can't live in our community it's that simple. These are not new ideas there practiced all over the place in our country. I AM SICK OF MY TAX MONEY GOING TO A CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER TO BABYSIT THE SAME LANDLORDS TIME AND AGAIN. THEY GET WROTE UP AND NOTHING IS EVER DONE NEXT MONTH THEIR WROTE UP FOR THE SAME CRAP OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I WISH I COULD SAY THE NAMES ON HERE OF THE VIOLATORS. Its ridiculous how they sit in their own houses up on a hill with their yards all manicured nice or in some lake home community just out of town. THEY WOULD NEVER LIVE NEXT TO THEIR OWN RENTALS AND DON'T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TOO, WHILE THEY'RE LAUGHING AT THE CITY INSPECTORS.

scott williams
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I would also like to add that we the people have asked to have this crime stopped and I do commend the police and administrators for listening and trying to do something. I hope they prevail just don't think they have all the wrinkles pressed out yet. As a person that has law enforcement in his family I know cops want the tools to make them safer and I agree to that for sure. I HOPE ALL OUR COPS GET HOME TO THEIR FAMILIES AFTER THEIR SHIFT ENDS.

Kyle Couchman
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Sorry Scott but you are wrong, not everyone in these distressed properties are troublemakers thats an assumption you have come to on your own. So your statement that...

"And as far as the tenants having to move well if their not responsible enough to stay out of trouble then they can't live in our community it's that simple."...

Shows a frame of mind to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let me make it clear NOT EVERY APARTMENT IN A BLDG HAS TROUBLEMAKERS. Yet your solution is "f" them if they live near them then throw them out too. Thats not a solution, thats a problem because they will eventually end up with public assistance to find housing here anyway, increasing the load on taxpayers.

As for the problem landlords, there are far worse types of landlords. There are investment groups which have quite a bit of money and lawyers to throw around that could move in to take over these slumlord properties. They tend to bully city and town Govts into things rather than comply, and they have the financial wherewithal to do it as well. You dont want that moving into investing as they hire fly by night property managers and keep the staff rotating in and out enough to muddy the waters locally when it comes to compliance with local code. So it could be worse than it is now......

Eugene Jankowski Jr
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I've talked with Chief Heubusch and Assistant Chief Yaeger about this program at length. I personally know both of them and trust they have good intentions to use this program in full compliance with the law to make Batavia a safer place. I would never support any program or equipment that would violate an individuals civil rights or privacy. If this is approved I'll continue to monitor this program for as long as need be to insure it's implemented properly and as promised.

Mark Brudz
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