SCHENECTADY — As the city struggles with a spate of gun violence, state police will bolster city police operations.
“They’ll be working with our officers and primarily designated to the areas with the highest need,” said Chief Eric Clifford on Friday.
Troopers started on Thursday, Clifford said, and will patrol with city police officers whenever possible.
“Clearly we recognize the increase in violence,” he said. “It’s all hands on deck from the investigative services end.”
State police declined to comment on the number of troopers being deployed to Schenectady, saying the release of specifics on the number of patrols could pose a “safety and security issue for our members.”
Reinstatement of the “blue-gray” patrols comes when the city is grappling with rising gun violence, including the fatal shooting of a mother of six on the porch of her Sixth Avenue home on Sunday.
City police have charged Joel Johnson, 21, and a 17-year-old with second-degree murder in the killing of Jennifer Ostrander, who was 31.
“It’s horrifying to know that other children are being left behind senselessly,” said Amanda Patterson, who is also struggling with the aftermath of violence.
Her longterm partner, Roscoe Foster, was fatally shot in Feb. 2018 near the corner of Becker and Linden streets — just blocks from where Patterson and other survivors held a vigil Thursday night to renew calls for justice and denounce gun violence.
The case remains unsolved.
The vigil unfolded beneath a billboard at the corner of State Street and Brandywine Avenue announcing a $5,000 reward for information related to the capture of Foster’s killer.
Roughly four-dozen friends and family members, including Foster’s children, donned neon green shirts emblazoned with an infinity symbol paired with an anchor as a symbol of their perseverance.
“They’re catching everyone else’s killer,” said Jennifer Bacon, mother of three of Foster’s children. “What about Roscoe?”
City police have said the case remains under active investigation.
A small clutch of clergy also gathered outside of the county’s Mont Pleasant Branch Library on Friday morning, just steps from where Ostrander was slain, to call for peace.
Revs. Steve and Brenda Shaw of Light House Food Pantry & Prayer Center Ministries led a brief informal service, singing, praying and offering spiritual guidance to passers-by.
“We want to pray against violence and we want the community to be supported,” Rev. Brenda Shaw said. “We support them and we want peace in our city.”
Among those walking by was Delvern Cooper, co-founder of the gang intervention program Nationally Reaching Greatness.
Cooper shook his head at the ages of the two charged with Ostrander’s slaying.
He believes youth mentoring programs are effective at steering at-risk youth away from violence, and more needs to be done to block their access to guns.
“They’re getting a negative influence,” Cooper said. “It starts at the top of the food chain.”
Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association President Pat Smith said her email account nearly crashed because she received such a high volume of correspondence from residents concerned about recent shootings.
Five people were injured in a spree of weekend shootings in late July, and two people were also shot and injured on Orchard Street on Monday evening.
Smith believes the increase in violence, in part, is related to the controversial bail reform laws that abolished cash bail for misdemeanors and many non-violent felonies, and some violent ones, at the beginning of the year.
Smith also pointed at recent reforms that removed 16- and 17-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system, and said those laws should be rolled back.
“What we need to do is go after the legislators,” Smith said.