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Greenwich Police Refute Stories of East Side Crime

GREENWICH, Conn. - At a recent debate, residents asked what steps the first selectman candidates would take to deter crime on the Stamford-Greenwich border and at the Riverside Shopping Center. But is there really more crime in that part of town?

“I know it’s a very intimidating place when it turns dark,” said incumbent First Selectman Peter Tesei, adding that police have seen narcotics sales and drug activity at the Exit 5 McDonald’s off Interstate 95. “I know we can help keep the bad guys out through vigilance, preparation, communication.”

His challenger concurred. “We have a fine police force, and some would say, an overstocked police force,” said John Blankley, Democratic candidate for first selectman. “It would be my expectation with all the resources that we have, we could increase patrols and divert attention from other parts of town that may not be quite so open to the types of criminality in that area.”

However, the Greenwich Police Department’s public information officer, Lt. Kraig Gray, says there is no more crime on the Greenwich-Stamford border than in any other part of town. “Unfortunately crime takes place all over Greenwich, and we don’t see any more activity on the east side of town compared to the west side,” he said. “There’s nothing going on there that we would have to shift additional assets in that direction.”

The Riverside Shopping Center is like any place with 24-hour shops – people come out at night, said Gray. The center, along with the McDonald’s, is a meeting spot for many people, not just criminals. “It’s easily accessible from I-95 and it has 24-hour stores and a well-lit parking lot, so plenty of people are meeting there for perfectly innocent reasons,” he added.

“Most people are not cognizant of crime unless it takes place in their neighborhood or to their loved ones,” he said. “Merchants on Greenwich Avenue would tell you the same. In Byram, anyone who had a GPS stolen from their car would also tell you that there’s more crime in that area, and it’s just not true.”

Tesei recognized the work of community impact officers in communicating information about crimes. Blankley said he had positive feelings about the work of these officers. He also recognized that crime is not exclusive to the Stamford-Greenwich border. “Even in broad daylight on Greenwich Avenue we see criminality. It seems every six months or so we see a jewelry store raided, so this center is not the only part of town that has crime,” said Blankley.

The town’s Community and Police Partnership, established in November 2004, aims to improve the relationship between police and the community. Groups representing the north, east and west parts of town were established to coincide with police patrol sectors. The groups meet monthly with community impact officers to exchange information about what is happening in each neighborhood.

“The community is safe. We’re out there, we patrol, we investigate crime and take action, and it’s the general perception that this is a safe community,” said Gray.

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