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Chief: 4th quarter calls down from’19

GLOVERSVILLE — Calls for service to city police were down during the fourth quarter of 2020 from the same months the previous year. Yet total calls last year were generally consistent with overall activity from 2019, except for reported overdoses which increased significantly year-over-year.

Police Chief Anthony Clay recently released the department’s fourth quarter statistical report for 2020 covering October through December that included a year-end comparison of departmental activity for all of 2020 with the previous year.

According to the report, from October through December the department received 2,378 calls for service, a 42 percent decrease from the 4,103 calls for service during the same months in 2019. City police made 231 arrests last quarter, which represented 15 percent decrease from the 272 arrests made during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The most reported calls for service received by police during the fourth quarter of 2020 were to assist a person with 347, followed by reports of disorderly conduct with 276 and then domestic incidents with 214.

By contrast, the most reported calls for service in 2019 were for domestic incidents with 273, followed by reports of disorderly conduct with 235 and finally to assist a person with 216.

Although calls for service during the fourth quarter declined as winter set in and the coronavirus pandemic continued, Clay noted in the report that the 10,562 total calls for service received by the department throughout all of 2020 were consistent with the 10,564 total calls received in 2019.

The subject of calls received by the department year-over-year were also relatively consistent. The 1,303 total disorderly conduct calls received in all of 2020 were up just 5.68 percent from the 1,233 received in 2019, the 1,059 domestic incident calls in 2020 were down 3.8 percent from the 1,101 in 2019 and the 1,370 calls to assist a person in 2020 were up 5.3 percent from the 1,301 in 2019.

The one area where the department saw significant growth year-over-year was in calls for overdoses with 44 total calls in 2020, a 46.66 percent increase over the 30 calls received in 2019.

“Nine of those complaints involved a total of 10 fatalities. Officers provided lifesaving aid to 22 individuals involved in other overdose complaints, administering Narcan and taking other steps to preserve life,” stated Clay. “In 2019 officers provided lifesaving aid to 24 individuals in 30 overdose complaints. There were no fatalities in 2019.”

Although total overdose complaints increased from the previous year, Clay noted that reported drug overdoses from the third quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter fell 37.5 percent. City police responded to 10 overdose complaints in the fourth quarter of 2020 with Narcan administered in seven incidents. There was one fatality during the fourth quarter.

In the report, Clay outlined efforts by police throughout 2020 to address issues surrounding drug trafficking and addiction through both enforcement and education.

During just the fourth quarter of 2020, city police initiated 18 drug offense investigations and reportedly seized significant quantities of drugs. During two interdiction traffic stops, officers seized more than 7 ounces of cocaine, 7 ounces of crack and almost 4.5 ounces of fentanyl.

Search warrants executed by police during the final months of 2020 following investigations led to the seizure of 180 bags of heroin, almost 15 grams of cocaine, 90 doses of LSD and illegally possessed suboxone strips.

For all of 2020, police seized almost 25 ounces of crack or cocaine with a street value of more than $70,000, more than 5.5 ounces of heroin or fentanyl with a street value of over $16,000, as well as LSD, methamphetamine and MDMA.

Clay has also prioritized preventative measures since he was sworn in as police chief in March, working to get lifesaving overdose reversal drugs into the hands of trained community members. During the fourth quarter of the year the department facilitated Narcan training sessions for the public at DuBois Garden Apartments with the HFM Prevention Council and Rob Constantine Recovery Community and Outreach Center. The department worked with community partners throughout 2020 to facilitate Narcan training for almost 100 individuals.

Police have also worked to connect community members with local service agencies providing a variety of supports, including addiction and recovery services. The department launched the Neighborhood Engagement Unit in the spring that sees officers and members of community service agencies visiting various neighborhoods in the city to engage in conversation with residents and connect those in need with services brought directly to their doors.

That initiative was suspended for the winter while the department works to develop plans to meet the state police reform and reinvention mandate. The police reform process is focused on determining the role of police, setting police policies and standards and establishing community-oriented leadership, culture and accountability following the public unrest that swept the nation over the summer following incidents of police violence.

The Gloversville Police Department Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Committee comprised of local officials and members of community agencies and organizations was formed over the winter to work with the department to develop reform plans. The committee recently released an online survey to gather public input to inform the process.

The reform committee will meet in early February to review the results of the survey and begin drafting a reform plan for anticipated presentation to the Common Council in March. Final plans must be submitted to the state by April 1.

Clay has pointed to the reform process as providing the department another opportunity for city police to engage with the community and receive suggestions of how to improve service, although the department was forced to shift away from planned public input sessions to an online survey due to the coronavirus.

“While 2020 was an extremely challenging year for the department and law enforcement in general, the challenges we faced created or strengthened community relationships that have proven invaluable. We are very appreciative of everyone’s time and effort to recognize and assist us throughout the year,” stated Clay. “We look forward to continuing to build and strengthen these relationships in 2021.”

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