Updated 07/20/2012 07:18 AM
Federal forum ignites optimism in cleaning up Newburgh
A federal forum aimed at quelling issues in the City of Newburgh has come to an end. But as YNN’s Venise Toussaint tells us, the real work in cleaning up the city is set to begin and people are feeling energized about change.
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NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- Newburgh officials are optimistic about turning the city around. After wrapping a two day forum hosted by the Department of Justice, city officials, community members and police identified key problems plaguing the city and solutions to curb them.
“Out of negativity, positivity can come. Now we have some solutions, some around economic development, around building police and community relations, around better communications within the city and within all the organizations,” said Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy.
The forum stemmed from the March shooting of Michael Lembhard, who was killed by Newburgh Police. Though the officers were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, community tension with police has continued to mount.
“They don’t respect us enough. They treat us like we’re no good,” said Newburgh resident Joseph Martinez.
One of the main concerns addressed at the forum was how to better relations between the police and the community.
“There’s no communication. That’s not a good thing. Nothing grows or develops without contact or communication,” said a Newburgh resident.
Some solutions proposed by police at the forum were hosting barbecues in the park, having more officers walking or biking throughout the city and one resident even suggested shooting some hoops.
“She suggested how about a basketball game with the police and the community? Wonderful idea,” Kennedy said.
Other issues discussed were job creation, crime prevention programs and working with inner city youth.
“Right here in your inner city, you have very few activities for the kids to entertain themselves with, so they’re left with generally negative things that they try to occupy themselves with,” a resident said.
Mayor Kennedy says the city will begin mapping out plans to create more activities and implement solutions after receiving a report from the Department of Justice in the coming weeks.
“All of us are saying we’re going to make this city safe and I believe we are.”