New initiative aims to make Batavia streets safe - The Buffalo News
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New initiative aims to make Batavia streets safe

BATAVIA – Some day this year, residents may look out and see a small band of uniformed officers armed with clipboards and determined looks. A raid? No, it’s Neighborhood Sweeps, an innovation to make streets safe and to assure residents that their city is looking out for them.

Neighborhood Sweeps’ goal is to ensure that all residents of the city, regardless of where they live, do not become victims of illegal activity.

It’s part of a multifaceted Strategic Plan that includes a Neighborhood Enforcement Team to combat drugs and illegal weapons; enforcement of codes on rental properties; and Vibrant Batavia, a project that includes coffee talks in neighborhoods and a newsletter sharing success stories.

Neighborhood Sweeps would have a policeman – possibly the chief or his assistant – along with public works, parking and recycling staff and state and local parole officers visit areas of the city on an occasional basis.

Alert citizens last week helped police agencies nab two suspects in an aborted burglary, and an alleged bank robbery.

Police praised their quick action on two crimes in which arrests were made within minutes.

The city is focused “on neighborhoods that have nuisance factors and illegal behavior.”

The 2014-15 budget has allocations of more than $20,000 for two initiatives. Last year, Vibrant Batavia had $45,000 “to foster community pride and to develop the city’s centennial, which occurs in 2015 and marks the transition from village to city.”

The emphasis has not been restricted to housing, although rentals – some owned by absentee landlords – and multifamily residences have come under stricter code enforcement by public works, police and fire departments to combat blight and deterioration and its effect on neighborhoods.

The city has also stressed efficiency after seeing its population drop from near 20,000 to the current 15,500.

The city’s countywide emergency ambulance system was transferred to a private company. Police dispatchers on nights and weekends were moved to the Sheriff’s Office and shared services with the Town of Batavia were increased.

One result was Moody Investment Services moved the bond rating from A2 to A1, recognizing the city’s restored financial health.

Batavia was one of only three sites in the state to receive an upgrade.

The city’s planning process, now starting its fourth year, aims to “sustain a vibrant, affordable, safe community where people choose to live and work and businesses continuously flourish.”

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