BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - More than 100 people turned out at the Gloria Parks Community Center for the monthly Heath Street block club meeting. That's five times the number the group normally draws. Area residents feel that a recent armed robbery of a group of UB students who live off campus...shows there's an increase in crime. City officials say that statistically crime in the University Heights neighborhood is down.
Anthony Ingram is one local resident who is concerned. He says, "So the escalation of the crime...maybe the numbers are down but the severity of the is increased and that's what has a lot of the residents like myself worried."
A panel of local police agencies and city officials answered questions from residents. Cassandra Hayes, the Heath Street Block Club Chairperson is excited by the number of people who turned out for the meeting. "So many people came out to support what is going on in our community. They like living here. They don't want to move. We have to fight for our community."
A common complaint at the meeting was police response time. One resident who stood up to talk, said "Somebody is going to have to do something about this 9-1-1 system...because we shouldn't have to call three...four...five...ten times in order to get a proper response."
City Councilwoman Bonnie Russell hopes that an arrangement can be worked out so that NFTA Transit Officers and university police can spread out into the streets of the University district. "They feel unsafe. So, I have to keep continuing to do things to make them feel safer. That is why we are reaching out to every single law enforcement agency around the university district. We want to see if anyone can help."
Buffalo mayor Byron Brown was there to tell residents that the city is looking out for them. "We are going to continue to have our police department working hard. We are going to continue look at patterns of crime. When patterns are up...when we see spikes...then I will authorize overtime for our police commissioner."
Area residents hope that an increase in police presence will keep major crime incidents down.