Schenectady Police Lt. Thomas Harrigan was patroling the Mont Pleasant neighborhood when he heard a shot ring out.
Moments later, he had a trio of teens in custody and three guns confiscated. The weapons marked the third, fourth and fifth firearms plucked from the streets over the past three days as authorities step up their policing in some of the city’s rough-and-tumble areas.
Harrigan, who was promoted about a month ago, is leading an effort in the city to return police work to the basics. Sgt. Eric Clifford said the directive was issued by Police Chief Mark Chaires this month and is now being implemented by Harrigan, who is still actively patroling city neighborhoods himself.
“We’re trying to patrol the streets,” he said Thursday. “In other words, we’re not just answering calls.”
And so far it appears to be working. Clifford said removing five guns from the streets over a three-day period is significant, especially if they’re handguns.
The first arrest occurred Sunday while investigators were looking into a report of an armed robbery on State Street. While investigating, the victim pointed to a man riding a bicycle nearby and identified him as the robber.
Police arrested Beavin Robinson, 22, on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and fourth-degree grand larceny. Police said he used a loaded .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun to commit the State Street robbery, as well as another about 20 minutes earlier on Elder Street.
Also arrested in the Elder Street investigation was Kief Prince, 18, who was charged with first-degree robbery. Prince and Robinson are accused of using a gun to steal a cellphone and cash from a 17-year-old boy. Robinson is also accused of the second robbery, in which a wallet and debt card were stolen from a person on State Street.
The weapons charge arrest was followed by those of Markese Jones, 18, James Hill, 19, and a 15-year-old boy whose name was not disclosed because of his age. Police said Jones was also found wearing a soft-shell body vest, which is illegal in New York when the wearer is also charged with violent felony or weapons counts.
The increased emphasis on the patrols was lauded by city Councilman Gary McCarthy, who has often called for the police to invest more of an effort in patroling the streets. He was pleased to see initial results from the stepped-up neighborhood patrols.
“This is one of the good things that is happening,” he said Thursday. “Things are being done right, and hopefully it will help build confidence back in the department.”