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What you need to know for 05/22/2017

Schenectady councilman seeks crackdown on quality of life offenses

Schenectady councilman seeks crackdown on quality of life offenses

The day may be coming when you get a ticket for tossing a candy wrapper on the ground.

The day may be coming when you get a ticket for tossing a candy wrapper on the ground.

City Councilman Vince Riggi is calling for a 30-day crackdown on littering and walking in the street, as well as other quality-of-life problems.

“We have to have tickets,” he said. “If tickets aren’t issued, we’ll be whistling in the wind.”

He envisions something similar to seat belt checkpoints. Police would, at times, enforce the smaller violations during their regular patrols. He wants to pair it with efforts to clean up the city.

Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said he wants to hear more about the idea.

“Certainly, we’re willing to discuss it,” he said.

But he needs more than just an idea.

“The next step is to sit down and come up with a list of accomplishments and see if it’s even attainable,” he said.

Bennett added that summer isn’t the best time, because the police are very busy with serious crimes. But in slower months, he said, the police might be able to make it work.

Riggi is enthusiastic about the idea, which he campaigned on and has lobbied for consistently throughout his first term in office.

He said that just like speeding, littering and other violations must be enforced occasionally or the laws become routinely ignored.

Once someone gets a ticket, he said, they will be far less likely to litter again — at least for a while.

“It gets their attention,” he said. “That’s why police check seat belts. That’s why police enforce the speed limit.”

And, he argued, the crackdown could help police with more serious matters.

“It does give police the option, if they stop someone, to run their name to see if there’s any outstanding warrants,” he said.

The police have a large backlog of outstanding warrants, which they have struggled to manage while also handling day-to-day patrols.

“So it can have a two-fer effect,” Riggi said.

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