Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

January 20, 2013

HOPKINS: This planned crackdown looks familiar

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

In Lockport, there has been an increase in crime and other problems in the area generally bordered by Transit Road, Walnut Street, Erie Street and High Street. There have been at least three shootings within nine months, including two just a few weeks apart. Holdups are happening more frequently.

It’s not something one would expect in a little city such as Lockport. The neighborhood is experiencing a bit of a renaissance and, with major housing investments along Genesee Street and a large financial commitment at Harrison Place, it’s something that city officials want to nip in the bud.

Tucker noted that people left the neighborhood in droves in the 1990s as a major crack epidemic swept through. There are many rental properties in the area and some homes have been boarded up for 20 years. But people have been coming back, and Tucker said he wants to make sure these people stay.

“If you’re coming in here to do good things, we’ll welcome you here,” Tucker said Friday. Added Chief of Police Lawrence Eggert, “We don’t want our residents to feel like they’re being targeted.”

Unlike New York City, Lockport officials say the problem isn’t with the residents but rather with visitors and people passing through. Lockport has been known for years by local, state and federal officials as a favorite stopping point for drug dealers working out of Buffalo — and Niagara Falls — and Rochester. It’s easy to set up shop for a few days, make some deals, then take off.

Those are the people that city officials are hoping to deter from setting up temporary or permanent shop. It will cost a little bit of money, but Eggert said he believes the recent spike in crime and other problems has just begun, and it won’t be as costly to address the problem now as it would if city officials held off for a while.

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