HOLYOKE — Mayor Joshua A. Garcia has released his public safety plan — “Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets” — named after the unborn child who died October 7 in a shooting incident on Maple and Sergeant Streets.
“Holyoke is a compassionate city,” Garcia stated in the plan’s Executive Summary, “but that commitment to compassion and social justice must be balanced against our responsibility to provide for the safety and well-being of all our citizens.”
Garcia continued: “As Mayor, I have an obligation to address issues such as violence, illegal activity, and health and safety disparities that have a negative impact on neighborhoods.”
The Mayor’s plan calls for $1 million in new spending “to launch a comprehensive approach” that focuses on police enforcement, foot and bike patrols, hiring 13 additional police officers, installing a citywide surveillance camera system that functions in conjunction with ShotSpotter, increasing inspection of rental properties, tenant and neighborhood protection strategies, creating the post of Homeless Liaison / Housing Navigator, and strengthening neighborhood outreach and engagement.
The Mayor plans to submit his public safety plan along with a proposed supplemental budget to the Holyoke City Council at a special meeting to be held in November. Funding for the plan’s initiatives would be drawn from a range of sources, including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Capital Stabilization, Opioid Settlement funds, revenue interest, and local appropriation.
Mayor Garcia stated that “Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets includes a collaboration between City departments and multiple local, state and federal agencies working together to reduce violent crime and improve the well-being of residents, business owners, and visitors to Holyoke. This plan is heavy on law enforcement. But we also look forward to introducing proactive strategies that can help resolve blight and other issues before they become bigger problems — problems that often lead to or attract illegal activity, violence, and homelessness. These strategies include strengthening enforcement and establishing a new division out of the Mayor’s Office for Community Response to help residents with housing and neighborhood issues and proactively address quality-of-life concerns.”
He added that the plan “is not aimed at, nor is it intended to, abridge the Constitutional rights of any citizen. This operation is designed to address the problems associated with drug trafficking and associated violence throughout the city as well as to improve housing and neighborhood conditions.”
- Citywide camera system at key blocks and intersections including every entry point in and out of the city; system to be connected to shotspotter.
- 13 new officers for March academy.
- Overtime and expenses for Safe Streets Operation which includes community policing, foot and bike patrol, HPD Division Safe Streets Task Force, etc.
- Crime Analyst at HPD.
- Education and Training for municipal employees focused on compliance and enforcement.
- Homeless Liaison / Housing Navigator position.
- Additional inspector at the Board of Health.
- Public landlord registry, and every other year and pre-release inspections of rental property (Mayor’s Community Response Division).
- Housing legal counsel for tenants (mayor’s Community Response Division).
- Affordable Housing Development.
- Outside legal counsel for city legal department to address ongoing problem properties.
- Flex Squad enforcement – block by block sweeps, citations to property owners not addressing blight and other code violations.
- Neighborhood outreach and engagement, youth programming, and education.
- Appreciate Holyoke Initiative.