OSWEGO, NY – Nearly a dozen city residents attended the May meeting of the Oswego Community Neighborhood Watch on Wednesday night.
They heard updates from Sixth Ward Councilor Eric VanBuren regarding the Code Review Committee and from former First Ward Councilor Connie Cosemento on the Quality of Life Committee.
Police Chief Tory DeCaire was also on hand to encourage residents to contact the police department when they see something suspicious in their neighborhoods.
Terry Todd said one resident manager of a rental unit told her to call him first, instead of the police, and he’d handle things.
“Is that the correct procedure?” she asked the chief. “Or, should I be calling you?”
She recalled one time when someone told her that the police wouldn’t do anything.
“And, I thought, maybe if they knew about this, they’d do something about it,” she added.
“I always say error on the side of caution. That always raises a red flag when people say, ‘Don’t call the police, call me first.’ Why is that exactly?” the chief replied. “If you see something, say something. A lot of the times, the complaints that we hear are after the fact. Friday and Saturday nights there are a lot of parties going on, (people) will wait until Sunday to call their councilor and then we hear about it on Monday. It’s good that we’re getting the feedback, so we know where the problems are and what’s going on. But if we know about it when it’s happening, we can actually go and so something about it.”
One of the reasons that person told her to call him instead of the police isn’t so much that he’s afraid the police wouldn’t do anything rather that he is afraid that they are going to do something, DeCaire continued.
“If there is any question, about anything really, call us, the chief said. “If it isn’t something that we’d normally handle, if there’s another avenue for success, we’ll guide you down that path. Don’t ever be hesitant about calling us first.”
Another reason you need to call the police is to establish a data base, Cosemento pointed out.
The 911 center is OPD’s call center.
“So if you call the police station with a (complaint), we will say hold on a second and we’ll transfer you to our call center. The reason we do that is because what Connie said. They develop a log and we don’t have the technology to do that. The 911 center logs the call, they show what time the call came in, what time it was dispatched, what time we got there, what time we cleared the call and what happened,” DeCaire pointed out.
People can call the police station, but it is more direct to call 911, he said.
The chief pointed out that representatives from the city and college continue to work together to curb problems caused by students during the school year.
“We’re trying to impress on those who live off campus that by doing so they are not just college students, they are city residents and with that comes certain responsibilities,” the chief said. “The problems aren’t just caused by college students, however.”
Residents also asked whether there were set hours for the noise ordinance; after 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., for instance.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about the time,” the chief said. “There are multiple sections to the noise ordinance and one mirrors disorderly conduct – any unreasonable noise at any time of the day.”
That doesn’t mean the police will arrest someone every time; perhaps they might just give them a warning and that will be sufficient to correct the problem, he explained.
They take a common sense approach, if (the noise) is bothering you, it’s unreasonable, he added.
The chief also mentioned a service the department provides that many people aren’t aware of.
Upon request, the department will provide a “house watch,” the chief said. If someone is going to be away for an extended period of time, they can ask to have a police officer check on their home from time to time.
The Quality of Life Committee was formed by former Mayor Randy Bateman with Mayor Tom Gillen. The purpose is to do a one year study on how to increase home ownership in the city, Cosemento said.
A boost to improving the quality of life in the Port City is the reinstatement of the city’s zoning enforcement officer, Cosemento said. The Common Council recently approved re-establishing the position.
“From what I understand, they’ve conducted interviews and are ready to hire,” she added
The Code Review Committee is going over various codes.
Many of them have been on the books for years and are rather outdated, VanBuren said.
“I found that some of them aren’t as tough as they need to be,” he added.
The chief and Cosemento suggest people should get to know their neighbors. That could go a long way toward preventing problems from popping up, they said.
Todd said she has done that in the past.
“Some of them were really decent people,” she said. “Others, not so much.”
For the June meeting, coordinator Betty Gray would like to plan a tour of the 911 Center. She can acommodate up to 30 people.