The crime rate in the city of Utica has gone up nearly 100 percent, so says a recent crime audit. The Utica Police Benevolent Association or PBA issued the audit.
Instead of re-hiring a laid off police officer, the President of the union says the city has spent money on new cars.
And that money spent Sgt. Dominick Nitti says came out of the police budget.
Sgt. Dominick Nitti says "inefficient management" is affecting the morale of the city and also how the police department functions.
"Our patrol division is depleted down to bare minimum. We have 8 cars driving in the city at one time running calls. They are not allowed to do proactive work because they are going call to call. There are no extra cars out there like there used to be," said Sgt. Nitti.
Utica police Chief Mark Williams says he understands the union's frustrations with the city. But, the Chief says the city crime has not gone up nearly 100 percent, rather more like 13 to 15 percent.
As for the cars, Chief Williams says when their lease came to an end, the only way to have a command staff of cars was to re-new their lease.
He says they got the same amount of cars from the previous lease and the department has always provided a take-home vehicle to the mayor.
Aside from that issue, the police chief does agree that crime is rising in the city.
"My goal is that we have to be very careful at pointing fingers at each other. The point is what happened, happened. We have to make it work. That is the bottom line. My goal is to still work with the union, the common council and the mayor. By alienating anyone of those entities we will not find any solutions to our problems," said Chief Williams.
Chief Williams says there will still be bumps along the way with the new upcoming budget year. The union has yet to reach a contract with the city.
The police chief says he hopes when and if a contract is in place it can hopefully solve the morale issue in the city.