“We are a city,” said Lt. John Catone of the Saratoga Police Department. “When you are a city and you are a growing city like we are, you get city-type problems and an increase in crimes is one of them.”
In the last few months, two women were raped and assaulted in separate incidents and another was brutally beaten and robbed of $300. All required treatment at Saratoga Hospital.
Catone said burglaries in the Spa City are up by 30 percent and larcenies, 10 percent.
“We have had people come home in the middle of the day and found someone in their homes,” said Catone, noting that they were seeing more and more crimes of opportunity.
Noting that Saratoga Springs’ crime levels were “still relatively low,” and that seeing violent crimes in the city was “unusual,” Lt. Catone said that while the growth has been good for the city, it has also had its downside.
“Saratoga Springs is good at promoting itself and with that comes a lot of good things like tourists and businesses and growth,” said Catone. “But those things also create an increase in traffic and traffic problems, drug use and drug sales and an increase in crime–it all goes hand in hand.”
Adding to the problem, said Catone is that the police department is working with a smaller staff than in past years—58 patrolmen compared to 72 in 2009.
He added that while he wished there was an easy solution such as increased patrols or more pro-active approaches, there was no quick fix to the upswing in crimes.
“We are handling more calls than ever before,” said Catone. “We know, in part, [the increase in crime] is related to the drug problem, but there is no quick-fix solution to the problem.”
He added that while the department continues to try and be as pro-active as possible – such as the recent string of drug-related arrests; 20 in the last two months—residents and tourists can help as well.
“If you are out walking whether for exercise or you are going home or out to dinner, be vigilant with your surroundings,” said Catone. “Right now it is a cultural problem—we all see people out talking or texting and not paying attention—we’ve probably all done it at some time or another. Take some self-initiative—walk with someone or pay attention to your surroundings.”