NORTH ADAMS -- Officials say a beefed-up police presence in response to a rash of violent incidents has led to an increase in arrests over a six-week period.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said he was pleased with the results, and thanked the authorities involved.
"I think what we're seeing is a different type of crime," he said. "The last six weeks have been spent getting on top of the real bad guys. We don't want them here. Nobody wants them here."
The city saw a rash of violent incidents earlier this summer. A 25-person brawl outside the Artery Lounge on Union Street sent one man to the hospital with knife wounds and resulted in charges for several Pittsfield men. In an incident on June 22, a man was transported to Albany Medical Center after being beaten outside of McDonald's on Union Street.
Most recent was an armed robbery Saturday afternoon, at the Corner Market on River Street, in which two men, armed with a knife and a handgun, made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, cigarettes and lottery tickets.
"It's very unusual to see that happen," Police Director Michael Cozzaglio said. "To have that happen in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon anywhere, that is out of the norm."
Cozzaglio said the robbery is still under investigation and could not provide further information.
Both Alcombright and Cozzaglio stressed many recent incidents, including breaking and enterings and assaults, have been drug related.
"The face of addiction has changed," Alcombright said. "Addiction brings out desperation."
Extra patrols were brought to the city from the State Police, members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Group (formerly known as the Berkshire County Drug Task Force), and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, Alcombright said. In addition, local police increased presence in "high-priority neighborhoods" such as Chase Avenue and Mohawk Forest.
Cozzaglio said the group effort, with the help from outside agencies provided at no cost, has yielded impressive results: 135 arrests have been made in the past six weeks, 25 percent above average, he said. Thirty-six arrests resulted in felony charges, 61 resulted in misdemeanors. There were 18 warrant arrests and 154 car stops, he said.
Included in the arrests were an 18-year-old city man who faces 22 charges for allegedly breaking and entering cars in the Notch Road area, Cozzaglio said, and two men who were found stealing a catalytic convertor from a car. The men were connected with reports of scrap metal theft around the city, he said.
The majority of the crimes have been carried out by people who have come to the city from other areas, Cozzaglio said, including some coming from New York City.
"It's not very often that we see someone who was born and raised here," he said. "These are people who have been to the city less than five years at most. We have to remember that pretty much 99 percent of our community are good people ... It's the 1 percent that we're dealing with."
Cozzaglio and Alcombright could not speak to how long the increased coverage would remain in place, but agreed it will remain for the foreseeable future.
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