Mayor: Occupancy Up, Crime Down in City of Poughkeepsie
Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison gave his second annual State of the City address at the Cuneen-Hackett Arts Center and told the crowd that housing of all types is up at least 20 percent while 2016 saw a decrease in property crimes, a reduction in the five-year average of violent crimes, and panhandling has been all but eradicated in the city's central business district.
The Wednesday speech had the mayor, who is a retired police detective and former volunteer firefighter, praising the city's public safety entities who he claims "have done a phenomenal job of keeping Poughkeepsie safe." Rolison cited police programs such as "Cocoa with a Cop" in all of the Poughkeepsie schools as having enhanced police-community relations which is so important for the city.
According to Rolison, the fire department responded to 4,383 calls in 2016 with an incredibly fast average response time of 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Of those calls, 57 required life-saving actions to be performed, many of which were the result of drug overdoses.
The mayor is, in his own words, is "obsessed" with trying to keep the city clean. It is not uncommon to see him patrolling the city on a daily basis looking for trash, especially discarded mattresses that he then assists DPW workers with removing them for proper disposal.
Rolison said that in 2016 the DPW's street sweeper logged 2,382 miles, all in Poughkeepsie, as it swept up 60 tons of debris. While that seems like a lot, the mayor admits that more needs to be done and he's asking everyone to help clean while supporting the "Pough KEEP it clean" campaign.
About 35 minutes into the speech, Mayor Rolison addressed the hot-button issue of the bus merger with Dutchess County. The initiative has been met with great resistance by a few members of the common council and a variety of protesters.
Rolison is not deterred by the protests, saying "the integration of our system is the right idea for the city. It will improve service, promote job creation in our community, and increase the safety of our residents. And also will save us money."
The mayor indicated that when he brings bold new proposals to the council, he does it with best intentions for the city and its residents. He intimated that certain council members are acting not in the best interests of the city but rather are doing things to promote their own agendas. Rolison said that the city cannot delay the integration program any longer.