SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Saratoga Springs Police are planning to boost their presence on weekends following a large fight on Caroline Street, where one person was stabbed and shots were fired, along with other instances of violence.
“We can become a city where we’re known for our violence, or we can stop it immediately,” Assistant Police Chief John Catone said during a press conference Monday.
Catone has been on the force for 35 years, and says this weekend, which included numerous fights, was like no other he’s seen.
“We’ve been busy. I’ve experienced nights where it’s been absolutely straight out nonstop, but it’s been a different kind of busy,” he explained.
Police believe the Caroline Street fight involved 15-20 people and was gang related.
“It’s certainly unique to this moment. I really can’t speak to whether or not there’ve been gang members here or not. In my term as public safety commissioner, this is the first time we’ve had real problems with gang violence from other cities in our city,” said Robin Dalton, the city’s public safety commissioner.
SSPD is working with numerous partners, including agencies in Albany, to address the issue of gang members coming up to Saratoga.
As part of the short term solution, the department will be treating each weekend through the summer as Travers Weekend, with as many uniformed officers as possible situated downtown.
“If that number is 25, it’s 25, if it’s 50, it’s 50, whatever we can get to send a message that we care about this community, we care about public safety,” Catone said.
While increased presence is part of the short term solution, the department sees community support as a long term fix.
“This police department must grow. We’re barely at 2009 staffing levels, think about how much the city has grown in the last 12 years,” Dalton says.
Dalton said she would hope to see around 20 more officers on the force. As for the fight on Caroline Street, police say they have numerous people of interest.