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Hudson Police face questions from the public about shootings

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    Lance Wheeler/for Columbia-Greene MediaThe scene of a shooting in Hudson on Fifth Street on Thursday night where a man was critically injured and taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital. He was later airlifted to Albany Medical Center.
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    The scene of a shooting in Hudson on Fifth Street on Thursday night where a man was critically injured and taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital. He was later airlifted to Albany Medical Center.
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    Lance Wheeler/for Columbia-Greene MediaThe scene of a shooting in Hudson on Fifth Street on Thursday night where a man was critically injured and taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital. He was later airlifted to Albany Medical Center.
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    A candlelight memorial outside 29 N. Third St. where 31-year-old Kevin Whitening was shot after a series of shootings in Hudson.
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    Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore [right] and Hudson Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton speak at a press conference Wednesday night at the police state on Union Street following a raid where several people were arrested in connection with the three shootings that have taken place in the city over the past two weeks.
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    Courtesy of Hudson PoliceBullets fired on Rope Alley in Hudson damaged a van and injured a Stockport woman on Aug. 12.
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    Courtesy of Hudson PoliceA pistol was recovered after a shooting at Half Moon bar on Aug. 30.
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    Lance Wheeler for Columbia-Greene Media Several suspects in the weekend shootings of two women and two children have been identified by Hudson City Police.
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    Contributed photo This bullet was extracted from a 3-year-old’s knee after a shooting on State Street on Sunday. Three people were wounded, including two small children.
September 26, 2017 11:30 pm

HUDSON — Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore asked for patience from the public as police continue their investigation into seven shootings in the city over the past four months, including one where a man was killed in August.

Moore’s appeal came at a monthly meeting of the Police Committee of the Hudson Common Council on Monday.

In addition to the killing of 31-year-old Kevin Whitening on Aug. 22, two women, two toddlers and two men have been wounded from gun violence in the city since May 1. No arrests have been made.

“I ask politely for your patience because in these cases, it isn’t a case where you can make a case right away,” Moore said at the meeting. “I probably could have made some arrests, but unfortunately, you have got to make a case in a court of law, and it is very difficult to amass the evidence needed to convince a jury to find someone guilty. I am not going to rush into an arrest. I am going to ask for your patience to allow me to make a good arrest with plenty of evidence.”

Moore has appeared in several public meetings to answer questions since the number of shootings multiplied over the summer.

At Monday’s meeting, Moore said he understood residents’ concerns, adding officers continue to put in extra hours to investigate the incidents.

The police chief submitted a report to the committee Sept. 25 that shows a comparison of overtime hours racked up between the first, second and third quarters of 2015 to 2017.

The report did not include cost to taxpayers, but overtime hours increased from the third quarter 2016 from 3,133 hours to 3,736 hours of overtime to this year’s third quarter, or up 19 percent.

“We are trying to keep a handle on the overtime as we go forward,” Moore said. “...The overtime is not only [from] the [violence] spike that happened this summer, but also a lack of manpower.”

The amount of overtime could have been much higher if it were not for the support of neighboring police agencies, Moore said.

“We have a good relationship with county sheriff [David Bartlett] and state police and whenever we are short on a major incident, they are more than willing to come in to help,” Moore said. “...Anytime that there is an emergency event, they don’t hold back on supplying manpower. Now, in this big investigation this summer, I can’t even express to you how many hours these other departments have put in that this city individually could never afford.”

Manpower

Hudson police have struggled to maintain full staff numbers since the beginning of this year.

At one point, the department was operating with 22 officers instead of the usual 26. Three officers retired, one suffered a long-term injury and the 26th officer was cut by the city in its last budget process, Moore said.

“So when you lose four or five positions... it really hurts,” he said.

The department recently hired two officers in August and September, Randy Strattman and Jen Keyser. Moore has been working with the state Department of Civil Service to hire more.

“I predict we will have 25 [officers] by middle of October,” the chief said.

The salary for the 26th officer was cut from this year’s budget without explanation, said Henry Haddad, 3rd Ward alderman and chairman of the Police Committee.

“The police department was not informed, nor was the council informed, nor was the council president, when the 2017 budget was voted on,” Haddad said at the meeting. “It [the budget] came in front of us without budgeting the 26th officer. So, it was a surprise to everyone on the council and everyone in the police department, and, as I assume, all the residents of Hudson.”

Moore asked the public for support before next year’s budget is passed.

“I have requested the 26th officer be re-put into the budget,” Moore said. “I would like to get the public’s support on that because, believe it or not, one officer — plus, filling in the empty spots — could make a big difference in the city.”

With the 26th officer, the police department could engage in community policing, or actively building ties with community members in their neighborhoods, which is what the community has come to expect from the department more and more, the chief said.

“At any given time, there are two police officers working,” Moore said. “Sometimes three, and sometimes, we have a break and we have four. In a department of this size, it is almost impossible to dedicate people to community policing detail.”

In the case the department is above minimum patrol, officers are ordered to travel on foot or by bicycle as part of the department’s standing orders, Moore said. Lately, however, the department has been at or just above minimum patrol.

“I would love to have another five officers and just assign them to the city at a trouble spot and have a little office down there,” Moore said. “It would be perfect, but we just don’t have that kind of staffing. It’s something we would love to do — I would love to do.

“And again, when we take 12 or 14 officers and divide them over three tours of duty, it doesn’t leave a lot of gravy. Plus, we are averaging somewhere around 20 calls per day. Take the officers and add in those calls, there is not a lot of free time.”

‘Bring peace here’

Evelyn Burgess, the grandmother of shooting victim DiQuann Powell, stood up to speak several times during the meeting.

“What I am saying is, we got to bring peace here,” she said the first time she got up to speak. “The police got to get a better understanding of the community of downtown. You can’t just come in there when you feel like it and arrest people. How about friendly cops? The community is in jeopardy downtown as it is with all the chaos going on.”

Powell, 22, of North Second Street, was shot Sept. 14 after he got off his bicycle on Fifth Street between Columbia and State streets.

Powell, also known as “Da Da,” was arrested by Hudson police Aug. 23 as a fugitive from justice based on charges brought against him in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, where he allegedly drove a vehicle he was not authorized to use.

In June, Powell was questioned about a State Street shooting that occurred May 1. He also was being sought for outstanding warrants for attempted assault and endangering the welfare of a child. When police began questioning him, he attempted to flee.

Powell was charged with resisting arrest and second-degree assault June 14 after he allegedly broke a detective’s foot during his arrest. The detective was restricted to light duty for several weeks after the incident, police said.

After the chase, Powell reportedly told another officer the injured detective should drink “Gatorade” as a way of goading him to physically prepare, because he isn’t done running from police, according to court documents.

Powell posted $1,000 bail in Hudson City Court and was released before he was shot earlier this month.

The chief also addressed whether the shootings have been committed by gangs.

“To come out and say these are the Bloods versus the Crips is not accurate, but it is not accurate to say there is no gang influence,” Moore said. “Both members of each of these factions, or parties, have associates — friends — that are in these groups. And, yes, they are in our city. So they have what you might call affiliations with these groups, so it plays into what we have seen happen this summer.”

Alison Murphy, a resident of North Fifth Street, said the most recent shooting of Fifth Street occurred in front of her house.

“It’s been 11 years for me of not feeling comfortable and not feeling comfortable having friends and family visit,” she said, adding she moved to Hudson in 2006. “I have actually canceled all visitors for the next month or so to see how things come up, so I appreciate whatever you can do.”

Murphy requested police designate “safe zones” within the city and install cameras on North Fifth Street.

“A number of residents in my area are willing to have our homes as potential locations for cameras,” she said. “You can add me to that list.”

Cameras

When the police station moved from Warren Street to its new location on Union Street in April, many of the hardwire cameras installed throughout the city were taken offline, Moore said.

An engineered plan to install wireless grid of cameras was determined to be too cost prohibitive with its price tag of over $100,000.

“We are going to have reinstall cameras with more money,” Moore said. “There are surveillance videos as part of this investigation. I don’t really want to go much further than that, but we have utilized surveillance cameras in this case and in other cases.”

The chief has met with landlords of targeted properties on State Street to discuss the shootings and utilizing and gaining access to private security cameras.

In an attempt to keep people from loitering at night along Fifth and State streets, police have ticketed residents, but it has not acted as much of a deterrent, Moore said.

“They have been ticketed many times,” he said. “They pay a fine and they are back out on the street. We did a sweep in February and they were back out on State Street before I was out of the station.”

shootings & heroin epidemic

The recent shootings are tied to drugs and the heroin epidemic, Moore said.

“Everything is related to the growing heroin addiction problem,” the chief said. “There isn’t a public bathroom in this city that someone hasn’t used to shoot up.”

Drugs are coming in many different ways into the city, Moore said, including via the Amtrak train, the Taconic State Parkway, the New York State Thruway and major package delivery company UPS, he said.

Last year, there was a major arrest on the Thruway at Catskill Exit 21 for drugs that were destined for Hudson, Moore said.

“At any given time, there are ongoing drug investigations within the city,” Moore said. “We don’t have resources — the troopers do come through, and we ask the sheriff to come through, with a dog now and then. We don’t have a dog in our department.”

Moore’s officers regularly revive overdose victims and he gets calls all over the city from people reporting drugs being sold outside their home, he said.

“The groups [of dealers] vary,” Moore said. “If you told me that [there were] 75 to 80 drug dealers, small-time drug dealers in this town, it would not be shocking... The groups here that are fighting in this violence since the beginning of this summer are smaller than that.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.

SIDEBAR:

The following is a timeline of shooting incidents in Hudson since May 1:

• William “Whoody” Morrison, 30, of Hudson, was shot in the hip May 1 at 8:15 p.m. near the intersection of North Fifth and State streets, according to police. The incident remains under investigation.

• On May 30, Hudson police responded to a report of shots fired in the vicinity of the Half Moon Bar, 48 S. Front St., at about 11:43 p.m. Witnesses at the scene told investigators of a shootout that appeared to be the result of an argument between two people with handguns, police said at the time. No injuries were reported, but two vehicles were damaged by bullets, police said.

• Numerous shots were fired July 13 at 9:03 p.m. behind Bliss Towers, 41 N. Second St., Hudson. The incident remains under investigation.

• Sara A. Butler, 28, of Stockport, was shot in the shoulder Aug. 12 in a drive-by shooting on Rope Alley near the 500 block of State Street. Butler was in the driver’s seat of a van with a small child and Copeland — who was charged Thursday. She remains severely wounded in the shoulder and the investigation is open, police said.

• A day after Butler was shot, LaToya M. Brandow, 37, of Hudson, was shot through the calf and a 2-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy were shot in the knee in a drive-by shooting at 543 State St. where several people were standing on a porch, Moore said.

• Kevin L. Whitening, 31, of Hudson, was fatally shot in the chest Aug. 22 at 8:41 p.m. at 29 North Third St., between Columbia and State streets. He was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson where he underwent emergency surgery, but later died.

• Di-Quann Powell, 22, of North Second Street, was shot on Sept. 14 after he got off his bicycle on Fifth Street between Columbia and State streets.

• James Hargrove, 25, of Hudson allegedly shot himself in an accidental shooting in the rear of 523 State St. He was treated and released by Columbia Memorial Hospital.