Thursday, July 31, 2008

Picnic With Police and Fire Today

Supporters and neighbors are invited to Washington Square Park today for a picnic, located off the north end of Park Street.

There will be information and displays by the Police, Fire and other City departments. Games and other forms of entertainment will be available for the kids. Burgers, hotdogs and other picnic fare will be served.

Keep an eye to the skies. If it's raining, the picnic will be postponed until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We've Been Blogged!


Seen From the North Side at Blogged

"Seen From The North Side" has been reviewed by Blogged.

We're very pleased with the initial rating we received from Blogged's professional editors: 7.0 - Very Good.

The blog was evaluated based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

Currently, we rank higher than other law enforcement blogs that have been around longer and have more subscribers.

We invite you to join Blogged and submit a reader review.

Please help us continue to deliver content that makes you want to come back for more. Give us your feedback. Make comments. Email us.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Free Ballgame Tickets, Smoke Detectors


Fire Prevention Tips Using Smoke Detectors

In recent months, neighbors on the North Side have experienced the tragic consequences of house fires. Some of these fires occurred in structures where smoke detectors were not present, not working or not located where they could make a difference in saving lives.

Almost a year ago, three people died in a multi-story home on Carbon Street. Only one working smoke detector was found by fire investigators, located on the first floor. Two children who died were recovered from a second floor bedroom. A woman was unable to escape a third-floor attic.

Approximately half of all fire deaths that occur in homes could be prevented if working smoke alarms were present, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).

The primary reason why alarms are not working is that the devices installed are not operational. In fact, 1 out of every 5 homes that has smoke detectors installed lacks a single, working alarm. This is typically due to one or more of these factors:
  • The Big Disconnect: People sometimes disconnect their alarms because they present a nuisance. They're either activated by steam or vapors from cooking or bathing, or they chirp constantly because the batteries need replacing.

  • It Doesn't Work: Smoke Detectors need to be tested regularly. Although the batteries may be fresh, the unit may not work. Old units fail or give off false alarms. The older the unit is, the higher the odds are that it will not work.
Solutions to these problems are simple:
  • Relocate alarms that are too close to cooking and bathing areas.

  • Replace batteries and units on a regular schedule.
    • Batteries: Whether they're dead or not, install new batteries twice a year. It's recommended that you do this when Daylight-Saving Time rolls around.
    • Smoke Detectors: Check the back of the unit for a date clearly marked. Anything more than ten years old, or in bad shape, including units that have been painted, should be replaced. If your unit doesn't have a date on the back, it's old. Get rid of it.

  • Regularly test your smoke detector on the same schedule.
    • Press the button and see if it works.
    • Don't gamble with old devices. Replace them.
As part of their ongoing fire prevention efforts, firefighters from the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association will be distributing FREE SMOKE DETECTORS tomorrow night at Alliance Bank Stadium before the Syracuse Chiefs take on Scranton-Wilkes-Barre at 7:00pm.

Members of the Syracuse Fire Fighters Association have also donated a supply of FREE TICKETS for the game. Please stop in and pick some up. Smoke detectors can be costly for many families. This is a great opportunity to have a night out with the kids, while doing something to keep them safe.

Be sure to arrive early to receive these free items. They'll be available while supplies last.

If you aren't able to pick up a free unit, please take the time to test the units in your home or apartment. Encourage your neighbors to do the same, or give them a hand. Let's do what we can to prevent another tragedy.

For more fire prevention tips, visit the NFPA website or contact Fire Prevention in the Syracuse Fire Department, (315)473-5525.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Clarke's Caventure, Part III: Can Clark Conquer the Cave?

(Editor's note: If you haven't read Parts I and II yet, do that first.)

I was disappointed with myself.

I tried to attend this trip with my son R.J. the past couple of years but the timing never worked out. This year, R.J. is traveling with a college group, but my daughter had jumped at the invitation. Now she was in the cave without me.

"What a drag," I thought, as I sat on the ledge.

One of the teachers who could not fit in the cave began talking with me. I shared how disappointed I was.

"What are ya gonna do? If we can't fit, we can't fit."

She was right. It's not like we could shave off parts of our backs and chests to fit through the crevice. It was true, but still not much help to end my pouting.

The man who had so much advice then took off his outer shirt and tried to get in again. Still no luck.

"I guess that confirms for me that I can't fit," I thought.

The man said he was going to lose more weight, come back next year and try again. He even said he lost 15 lbs from last year and still, he couldn't fit. For a moment I had been thinking about the "losing weight and fitting in" idea, but with that testimony he blew that idea for me.

What's more, I kept looking at Millerman. He has been in the cave several times, but this time he was assigned to remain outside. "He is bigger than me," I thought, "how did he fit in?"

As I sat on the ledge pouting, I looked at Millerman then looked at myself. We had the discussion before the trip. Millerman had said, "You will fit in the cave. If I fit in, you will fit in."

But I couldn't fit in. So now I was looking for some secret clue.

I asked Millerman, who was reclining half asleep on a large bolder, "Millerman, how the heck did you fit in that cave? There is no way I can fit."

"They had to use a lot of grease on me," was his reply.

I should have expected such an answer coming from him. "No, really, how did you fit?" I asked again.

"I don't know. I just did," he replied.

I was really puzzled, and I know the women were as well.

A short time later the other group began exiting the cave. What were they doing? They were coming out from the chasm, not from where we were trying to enter. "Is there another way?" I thought.

As soon as they left, one of the teachers, who couldn't fit in the cave, came over to me and said, "Did you see where they came out of? Let's go see if we can fit through that way."

I wasn't interested at first.

I had already given up.

But as soon as she headed in I was right behind her.

We both dropped down into the chasm and looked around with our headlamps. We couldn't see far, and it would require some tight squeezing, but there was clearly more room as far as our eyes could see.

But which way was the right way? We had no idea. We decided not to chance going the wrong way and getting stuck. It wasn't long after our group started exiting the cave.

And guess how they exited? Up through the chasm.

Exploring Eagle Cave

Our leader, Tom Gardner, popped his head up from the chasm, and yelled for us to come in. As soon as I got through this bigger, yet still tight, passageway into the cave, I began yelling for the others to come in. I told them there was much more room, and soon, those of us who were left behind were all in the cave exploring.

Eagle Cave

Once you get past the tight squeeze, the cave opens up into a huge room.

There are other tight turns and passages that lead to other rooms, some requiring climbing and descending equipment. This is not an adventure I would recommend for the inexperienced.

The trip down the mountain was much easier than the trip up. We arrived back at our camp sites a little tired but well satisfied with our accomplishment.

It was another evening of networking and sharing—along with a mind teaser: "I need a Psychiatrist." I will tell you who was the last to figure out this mind game because it was me.

Alyssa and I enjoyed hanging with the group util around midnight again. Much wisdom was shared during this trip.

It requires a certain kind of person to be up for the challenges of working in the city schools with children. Many teachers don't have what it takes. It was a pleasure for my daughter and me to meet and network with the fine group of folks that attended this trip. Each one is dedicated to reaching out to our youth and doing their best to provide them with an education. I look forward to working with them in the future.

The next morning we were up early, packed and at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake by noon. Alyssa seemed ready to venture through the museum when she started out by sitting in the over-sized Adirondack chair. But after two hours of touring we were tired and ready to go home. No problem. I am a member of the museum and can return multiple times. We have several more trips to the Adirondacks to work with college groups through fall. We plan to visit the museum again.

A shout out to all you Syracuse City School teachers: Keep up the hard work, and sign up for the Adirondack trip next year. Contact Ken Miller for more information.

To those of you who would like to take your group of teens or your corporate group on an Adventure trip, contact me. We have access to numerous types of accommodations and facilities in the Adirondacks and locally.

Alyssa, Renee and I will be providing team building workshops for groups through October.

Later,

Officer Clarke

(Editor's note: Props to Officer Clarke for not giving up! Pics of the trip are here. For more information on Chimney Mountain and Eagle Cave, including a history, detailed maps, directions and labeled pics, explore this site.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Clarke's Caventure, Part II: The Fit Test

(Editor's Note: If you haven't read Part I, do that first.)

By the time I reached the cave opening, there were already 15 or more people from the first group inside and 10 people from our group ahead of me.

As I climbed up into the mouth of the cave, I noticed that the opening was from left to right. At about 7' high on my left was a 3' opening at the top that came down to my left shoulder, then opened directly in front of me about 5' and narrowed down to about 1' moving 8' to my right. This means one has to duck into the cave, lean one's body against the rock with one's head and torso into the 3' area, and slide one's feet in, which would be in the 5' area.

Entering this way is necessary because the rock slopes down to the right, requiring would-be entrants to lay their bodies against the rock in order to maintain balance.

Squeeze!

Note: This is the larger part of the entry into the cave. Climbers traverse about 20' into the cave in this manner, which allows ample time for folks like me to begin contemplating, no dwelling on, their claustrophobic tendencies before they even get to the tight spot.

Prior to navigating this portion of the cave, I was standing on the ledge looking at people from the other group who didn't go in the cave and were waiting for their group outside. There was a man about my age whom I believed to have a slightly smaller chest size than mine.

He said, "I don't think you will be able to fit."

He then went on to say that he figured we were about the same size, and he couldn't fit.

At this point I was trying to determine if he was just more claustrophobic than I was, or if he truly couldn't fit.

While I was contorting my body to conform to the larger opening in the cave, things got worse: Two of the female teachers, who were a little larger than your average person, determined they could not fit and had us move back out of the cave so that they could get out of line.

Once we got back into position and traversed to the tighter section of the cave, the man began to offer more advice.

"Maybe if you take your long sleeve shirt off, it will give you a little more room."

"Could be that if you exhale all of your breath, you may be able to fit through."

As I traversed to the end of the large opening of the cave, my daughter entered the tight part, and I had now formed several conclusions:

1. The guy who couldn't fit is smaller than me, but possibly more claustrophobic as well.
2. I am going do everything I can to get into that cave, and
3. Boy is that a small area to try to squeeze through and
4. I'd have to squeeze for another 20' before I even got into the cave.

My daughter, all 100lbs of her, easily slid into the tight crevice. Next, it was my turn, and my daughter was directing me like the person before her directed her. I had to lie on my back or stomach on a 40 degree angle and slide my body 20' to get into the open cave. But first, I had to slide over a two foot chasm while already in this contorted unbalanced position.

As I attempted to slide over this chasm, I decided not to turn my headlamp on because I overheard one of the ladies mention something about it dropping down into the abyss. At this point I felt no need to deal with my fear of close confinements and my fear of heights at the same time. The thing is my daughter was telling me I had to place my foot on a ledge down in the chasm in order to get a foothold to boost myself into the crevice. I attempted to find the ledge by waving my foot in the air several times with no success and finally decided I had to turn my headlamp on. Much to my surprise the chasm was only 4' deep.

I attained my foothold and began to force my body into the crevice so I could get into the cave. I tried and tried to fit into that small crack that I needed to traverse through.

Ready?  Exhale!  Go!


I followed all of my daughter's directions, I slid up higher, and I slid more to the right. My daughter kept pleading with me, "You can do it, Dad." I couldn't.

Then I decided to lie on my stomach. With my back pressed tight against the top of the crevice, my pectoral was hitting solidly against the bottom of the crevice. I could not get my chest in, let alone begin to traverse.

"Come on, Dad," my daughter kept pleading.

"I can't, honey, I just can't fit," I replied.

Officer Corcoran, already inside the cave, yelled out for me to try it on my back. I turned around and tried some more.

I was still not fitting, but I felt like it might be possible. I tried the whole exhale thing and pushed really hard. I got my chest in as far as my nipple and found it now difficult to take a breath. I made it in a whole 6" and only had another ¾ of my body and 19 ½ feet to go.

There was no way.

I tried to explain to my daughter that my body was tight against my back and my chest. The only way I could move in was if I could lift the mountain.

I had to give up. I knew she was disappointed, but I encouraged her to go on and take some pictures inside for me. When she went on, I worked my way back to the ledge and sat down.

(Editor's Note: All that effort for this? Can Clarke rise above the gloom and find another way to reach his goal? Stay tuned.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Clarke's Caventure, Part I: Exploring Chimney Mountain

Hello Everyone,

As you may have heard from NorthsideBloggr, I retreated to a cave for a couple of days.

But I was not alone. My daughter, Alyssa, and I joined a group of Syracuse City School Teachers camping out near Indian Lake, climbing Chimney Mountain and exploring Eagle Cave, located below the Chimney near the top of the mountain.

The Chimney

The Chimney.

The weather and the company were absolutely wonderful. I was ready to get away from the hectic schedule I have been keeping. Going to the Adirondacks with my daughter, staying with this fine group of educators, and if that were not enough, NO PHONE SERVICE! Wow! I knew I was in for a great time.

Alyssa and I arrived about an hour and a half before dark on the 15th of July. We were introduced to the group and directed to a spot they set aside for us to pitch our tent. Once our tent was up and our gear unloaded, we joined the others around the campfire.

At that time more formal introductions were made, including sharing information regarding the various schools the teachers worked in and the challenges they each faced. As the night quickly passed some mind teaser activities were thrown in: "This is a bottle cap, this is a bottle cap, is this a bottle cap?" It took some members of the group a long time to figure this little mind teaser out. I won't mention any names. Next thing I knew it was midnight, and Alyssa was indicating she was ready to turn in.

The daylight woke me much earlier than I wanted to crawl out of my sleeping bag. I fought the urge to get up by trying to convince myself it was still early. However, due to the fact that I always carry my cell phone and no longer wear a watch, and after seeing my cell phone had no service, I chose to leave it in the truck. Thus, I really did not know what time it was. So I got up.

First thing I did was put together my coffee pot and head for the campfire. Needless to say, those who were up were happy to see me or, perhaps, happy to see the coffee pot. A time check, by someone smart enough to be wearing a watch, revealed it was only 6:30 am: A little too early for me. I am not a morning person. After a cup of coffee, I returned to the tent to find Alyssa up and preparing for a morning swim. I jumped into my swim trunks and joined Alyssa in a cool, eye-opening dip. Now I truly was ready for those morning people.

We joined the group around the campfire just in time for breakfast. Afterward, we loaded into several cars and headed to the base of Chimney Mountain. Together we began our ascent up the mountain. We made several water stops along the way.

Soon, more eager members of the group wanted to push ahead. I chose to stay behind with Ken "Millerman" Miller, whose assignment was to bring up the rear, and I told my daughter to go on ahead with the teacher she was enjoying talking to.

Millerman and I were accompanying a teacher who had to turn back on a long hike the day before. She was determined to make it to the top today. We slowly, but steadily moved along, taking frequent breaks. When we stopped, I would use my GPS to declare our elevation and the shrinking number of feet we had left to climb. I would estimate that an hour had passed.

I was uncertain if the group ahead had thought we turned around and decided to continue to the cave without us or not. Luckily, I had my BlackBerry in my pack, though I wondered if we were high enough for phone service. I turned it on.

Numerous chirps and beeps emitted from my phone, indicating waiting text and voice messages from the 16 hours my phone was shut off. I immediately dialed Alyssa's number, hoping I could reach the group before they left the chimney to go into the cave. She had just turned her phone on and sounded happy to hear from me.


Hiking near Eagle Cave


A portion of the hiking "trail" near Eagle Cave.

There had been some discussion that we may have turned around with the teacher who could not complete the hike yesterday. But my daughter told the group I would not have turned around unless there was an emergency with one of the members who was behind with me. She then informed the group leader that she was talking with me on the phone, we were all still climbing, and not too far from the top.

Once on top near the Chimney, we had a beautiful view for taking pictures.

View from the Top of Chimney Mountain


View from the top of Chimney Mountain.

A quick PB&J sandwich and some water and we were all hiking down to Eagle Cave. It was more of a bushwhack journey down to the cave than a hiking trail. We were lucky to follow a guide leading another group to the cave because this was a different route from what our leader normally takes.

Bushwhacked


The bushwack journey to the entrance of Eagle Cave.

Within 20 minutes we were at the cave entrance. While the group ahead of us entered the cave, our group put on long pants, shirts, climbing helmets, and headlamps. During this time, storm clouds moved overhead and dumped 15 minutes worth of rain on us.

When I finally got to the mouth of the cave, it was much different than I had imagined. From the descriptions that were given, I envisioned a rock wall with a hole at ground level. I thought I would lie on the ground, squeeze through this small gap and be inside the cave after only 2 or 3 seconds of rock against my face.

Oh no, it was not like that at all.

Did I mention that I am a bit claustrophobic?

(Editor's note: Does Clarke ever get to retreat to his cave? Tune in tomorrow for Part II of Clarke's Caventure.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Youth Programs: Why Bother?


Do youth programs make a difference? Do they prevent crime?

Is the Center just about making kids feel all warm and fuzzy, then sending them on their way where they'll get into trouble anyway?

Persistent criminal behavior by youth is the result of wrong choices. These contributing factors, according to research, tend to prevail in youth who commit crimes:
  • Family violence
  • Neglect, including:
    • Lack of involvement;
    • Lack of supervision by parents or any other caring adult;
    • Little to no emotional and social support from neighbors, relatives or friends;
  • Difficulties in school;
  • Peer-pressure;
  • Neighborhoods with sub-standard housing, recreational, health and educational facilities;
  • Youth unemployment and blocked opportunities; and
  • Poverty.
Many youngsters experience some of these problems and will never commit a crime. A child who experiences one or more of these problems, however, may be at a greater risk of criminal behavior. When parental supports are lacking, who provides the positive influence that children need to make right choices?

The Center's programs are not just about giving kids a positive experience, although that's a benefit we hope they receive. Those who work directly with the children and their parents, including officers and community volunteers, have some idea of what their lives and homes are like. Seeing them smile is rewarding.

The programs are about establishing relationships and supports, providing supervision and engaging children in positive, rewarding activities. All of these factors help to reduce the likelihood that these children will make choices that result in criminal activity.

The approach focuses on the positive, although it's intent is to address a negative: Crime and the factors that can contribute to it's cause. The Center's programs offer positive experiences to children who are facing many difficulties, living in situations that most of us never had to experience.

The children have fun, learn something, and receive a reward for their successes. They develop connections and relationships with other adults that care, and make friends with other children. This creates a sense of belonging within their neighborhood and community. When kids feel they matter to someone, that their lives have worth and value, they're more apt to behave constructively.

The Community Policing Division is addressing the problem in order to reduce youth crime. We have written about some of the strategies here, and invite you to take a closer look through the archives. Specifically, articles tagged "youth development", "programs", "events" or with a program name such as "GREAT". "DARE", provide more information.

Many of the officers involved with youth, either in proactive programs or reactively, give up personal time and the easy pace of summer while others are enjoying family vacations and lighter schedules that these few months are supposed to be about. These officers wouldn't do it with such dedication if it didn't make a difference. Every day there is an opportunity to influence at least one child or parent for the good.

DSC05106

Crime prevention and youth development programs are not effective when done in a vacuum. When neighbors, businesses, schools and other government departments, volunteers and donors supply a steady commitment of their resources, programs can be delivered consistently and effectively.

Resources include money, time, skills and abilities. Interested adults who are willing to volunteer their time are also needed. You can bring your children with you, as some of our volunteers do. Our events are family-friendly, and provide a great volunteer opportunity for tweens, teens and college students. They are also fun for adults.

We invite any honest skeptic to spend a few hours with one of the officers, and take a closer look. Give us a call if you're interested: (315)471-3257.

Or, stop by the picnic in Washington Square Park next Thursday, July 31 for lunch, and chat with us.

The Difference A Donor Makes

Girls Doing Crafts

We've added a new feature: The ability to donate online.

Press the button located in the right margin and you will be taken to a secure site where you can make a donation. It looks like this:

Who Benefits?

The Northside Community Police Center relies almost entirely on donations for operations and programs. The City of Syracuse Police Department allocates funds for the officer's salary, equipment (car, radio, etc.) and telephone. The remainder of expenses, including the facility, utilities, other operational and all program costs are funded by private donations.


Area businesses and residents say that having a police presence located in the neighborhood is of value to them. The Center has received regular support from their generous donations, which has directly benefited them, as well as other residents and many neighborhood youth.

But other people benefit as well. All kinds of people walk into the Police Center. A business person seeking immediate assistance with a loitering problem, a victim of domestic violence needing a coat, a few moments of respite in a safe place and some advice, an individual trying to avoid a road rage incident, and a person needing shelter and a good listener, have all walked into the Police Center within recent months.

So have victims of theft, criminal mischief and other crimes. The presence of a police cruiser parked out front is immediately identifiable. Whether or not people live or work near the Center, they regularly walk in seeking help with problems.

Your monetary donation of any amount is especially important at this time, and will be greatly appreciated.

Donating online is quick and convenient on Network For Good's secure site. There is an administrative fee deducted from your donation to cover the costs of online donations that goes to them.

Cash or checks can also be received at the Center in person or by mail, or we will come to your location. Checks should be made out to "The Northside Community Center of Syracuse, Inc.".

We're located at 255 Wolf Street, Syracuse, New York, 13208.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Youth Programs

Alyssa leads youth in a crafting activity at the Northside Community Police Center.

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the blog, but I have been taking part in the volunteer scene at the Police Center for many years now. Many of you may have seen me working around the Center or volunteering at one of the many events my father puts on.

For the readers who do not know me, my name is Alyssa Clarke. Those who read the post back on July 15 (or who notice the last name), may know that I am one of Officer Clarke's daughters. I graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College this past May, and I plan on attending Cortland College for my Master's in Spanish Education.

In the meantime, I am helping my father at the Northside Community Police Center. I am running the Breakfast and Lunch Program for youth 18 and under (for the second year in a row), and working on getting a kids summer program going this year.

In hopes of getting kids interested in reading, I have organized a time for them to come in to the Police Center to read books, do crafts, and play games. Our first day was July 22, so the program is very new. Volunteer support and craft donations would be much appreciated while it's still getting on its feet.

If you know any kids in the area between the ages of 7 and 13, they are welcome to join us. The program runs through August 21 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays beginning at 2pm.

We are located at 255 Wolf Street, on the corner of Park.

I hope to see some new faces at the Northside!

Your newest blogger,

Alyssa

Christi Stops by the Police Center


Yesterday, Christi Casciano of 9WSYR stopped by with a photographer to do a segment on what's happening at the Police Center.

She focused on the shortage of donations, particularly in light of the upcoming "Picnic With Police and Fire" that is less than 10 days away. She also checked out our website and the workstations we have available.

The segment will air soon, so tune in.

Christi anchors "The Morning News" from 5am-7am daily. She also provides special reports that air at Noon, 5pm and 11pm, typically law enforcement segments.

You can check their website for updates.

We thank Christi for her support of law enforcement, and the Center's events and programs.

(Editor's Note: The segment, which aired at 5pm and 11pm today, can be viewed here.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

GREAT Kids to Volunteer at Picnic

Officers Diglio (left) and Boni (right) with youth enrolled in GREAT.
"GREAT Kids!"  photo by Northsidebloggr 

Officer Tony Diglio is having a busy summer.

He and his fellow officers in the DARE Unit just completed a three-week session with more than a dozen students enrolled in the GREAT program. One week later, they're on to the next group who are actively engaged in their sessions at the Boys and Girls Club on Hamilton Street.

It's not even halfway through Day 2 and the group dynamics have already begun, with issues arising between personalities. This is a difficult time of life for the kids, who range in age from 10 to 14 years old.

They've come to the program on the recommendation of teachers, parents or resource officers working in the schools who have developed relationships with the youth and are able to identify individuals who would benefit by participating in GREAT: Gang Resistance Education And Training.

Late this morning, one young person was being counseled regarding dealing with the opposite sex in the peer group. Officer Diglio listened to the concerns, and pointed out the importance of interpersonal relations. Learning to communicate effectively with others, he said, will help now and later in life when pursuing life goals. He used an object lesson to teach the child who readily responded to the interest shown. The child left the room with a new resolve to relate better with others.

Next week, the youth will hone their teamwork and interpersonal skills in sessions designed specifically for this purpose. Officer Clarke will join these officers and others in the Community Policing Division to work with the kids outdoors in team building activities. This will culminate with a session in the woods of LaFayette on a Ropes Challenge Course located just south of the Jamesville Reservoir.

For the remainder of this week, the kids will be presented with all aspects of the Criminal Justice system by officers in various units within the Syracuse Police Department, as well as Onondaga County Probation. They will have field trips to various places and presenters coming to them, with messages on everything from goal setting to making wise choices, to career opportunities in law enforcement. Later, they will visit the courthouse for presentations by the District Attorney, and City and County Court judges.

Earlier this morning, the kids heard from a detective in the Youth Division regarding the consequences of making one bad decision. He emphasized how many other people are affected by one individual's choices. Using actual, local children's situations as case studies, the detective impressed on them that these are real people's lives, and not fictional stories. The kids also learned the difference in the levels of charges and the corresponding penalties.

There's also a taste of "cool" and some fun built into the agenda. The kids will see a demo by the officer in charge of the robot used by the Bomb Squad, and check out a fully-equipped, customized police motorcycle built by Harley Davidson. They'll visit the MOST, the zoo and watch a movie with a message.

They'll also volunteer in the community. Next Thursday, the youth will serve lunch to neighbors and supporters alongside others volunteering at the "Picnic With Police and Fire Departments". Stop by and meet us for lunch in Washington Square Park between Noon and 2pm, July 31.

We are still in need of donations for the picnic. For more information, please contact us at (315)471-3257.

For further information on the GREAT program, contact Officer Tony Diglio at (315)442-5216.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eclectic Melders

"Vulcan Mind Meld" originally uploaded by Tai High.

Dick Case melded with us yesterday on the graffiti art discussion by telling the story of artist Juan Cruz and his West-side murals that come together with the help of children, teachers and funders. Cruz's current restoration project was privately commissioned by a local businessman and investor.

This photo journal of a local artist's mural painting project on Syracuse's East-side is also notable. It depicts the abolitionist Reverend Jermain Loguen, and is located a few blocks from the site of the home he lived in. The mural is painted on the side of the building that houses Richmark Carpet and Linoleum, a locally owned business.

The original Loguen home, located where a Rite Aid chain store now stands, has been called one of the most important sites on the Underground Railroad because of Loguen's impact. The artist, London Ladd, involved youth and other adults in completing his project.

These murals are distinguished from works of graffiti art that are not commissioned, and exist on public or privately owned structures without permission of the owners.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vulcans in Cyberspace

"Bomb", originally uploaded by alanbenzie

Sphere was added to the blog several weeks ago to link readers of similar topics around the blogosphere. Sphere enables you to find content on the same topic anywhere across the Internet.

To use Sphere, click on the icon that appears at the end of each blog post. A menu will pop up providing options for your review. If something looks interesting, click on it and you'll go to another place on the web. If not, go past the pop up to the Sphere site, where you'll find more options that you can sort.

Using Sphere on the previous blog post, "Graffiti Art: Street Art or Street Crime?", a half dozen articles appeared on the pop-up, but over 2,000 were available at the site.

Selecting one led to uncharted, a Chicago artist who has blogged about graffiti as art. Uncharted acknowledges Chicago's big problem with gangs and the tagging that makes the city look dirty, yet contrasts that with the occasional work that intrigues her.

Uncharted is up on art exhibits happening elsewhere in the world, including Berlin, Germany which is a mecca for street artists. What's helped to perpetuate this? The lure of many bombed-out buildings.

Ironically, one of the most bombed cities is the most bombed city on a list where Syracuse, New York is notably absent.

Further, some consider bombing a science, not an art. Who knew the old art/science debate would arise while surfing about graffiti?

Pursuing the subject further led to an online universal gallery of graffiti art.

A link beneath uncharted's post goes to this video describing the phenomenon in Berlin in depth, which may either fascinate you or totally tick you off. At minimum, the segments of German Hip-Hop are worth a listen just for giggles.

The video raises awareness of the stunning prevalence of graffiti culture around the world, and further discusses the concept that Alphabeta is trying to run with in Brooklyn.

Sphere can take you in another direction in cyberspace. We think it's cool, so we're offering it to you. Go along for a ride sometime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Graffiti Art: Street Art or Street Crime?



"Just out of curiousity", originally uploaded by Sator Arepo
.



Alphabeta, a graffiti supply store, recently opened in Brooklyn dedicated to street art. It includes a gallery area with exhibits being scheduled.

A news story on NPR briefly discusses whether venues like this actually promote art or criminal mischief.

An additional issue is whether efforts to promote graffiti art have any positive influence on taggers who use spray paint to mark gang territory and vandals who deface their neighborhoods, causing immense problems to others, including property owners.

Some graffiti promotion efforts can actually have the reverse effect, attracting vandals and exacerbating the problem. Alphabeta's concept, as presented in the news story, sounds different from these.

Perhaps business concepts like Alphabeta's would succeed in smaller communities with some vision, leadership and interest in creating an arts program for youth, with an eye toward developing talent and engaging kids at risk of joining gangs.

A segment involving kids at some step in the process of community efforts to remove graffiti that is not art, in areas where it does not belong, would reinforce the legitimacy of such programs to prospective donors and the community at large. It would also teach students in the program to use their talents responsibly, and care about their neighborhoods.

In Syracuse, a similar venue could be located within the developing arts district established on the near West-Side. This area is within walking distance from several schools, and would be easy for children to access.

When Your Vehicle Is Vandalized


Crime Sucks, originally uploaded by hermanau.

A recent news story raised the topic of how vandalized vehicles are handled in the City of Syracuse.

If your vehicle has been vandalized, and you wish to obtain a police report, you have several options available to report this non-emergency matter.

In addition to calling the Tele-Serve line at 442-5613, you can walk into any one of the Community Policing facilities during business hours and obtain a police report, usually the same day. The facilities are located in all areas of the city:

  • North - 500 Butternut Street
  • Northeast - 713 Hawley Avenue
  • South - 4141 S. Salina Street
  • Eastwood - 2450 James Street
  • West - 625 Otisco Street

Police Storefronts include this one on the Northside - 255 Wolf Street, and another on the Eastside at 471 Westcott Street. More information is available in our directory.

You can make the process go faster by being prepared with whatever information you can gather in advance. Have this information ready:

  • Your Driver's License or Photo ID
  • A Brief Description of the Problem
  • The Date it occurred, approximate time, and location
  • Identifying information (e.g., make, model, serial number, photo, etc.).

For more information on other non-emergency situations where a police report may be obtained, read our web page on this topic and contact us.

Finally, don't give criminals the opportunity to make you a victim. Never leave valuables in plain view, even in a locked vehicle.

Portable GPS's are hot items. Be aware that criminals look for visible marks on windshields from the suction cups, indicating the device was removed and is probably stashed under a seat or in the glove compartment.

An ounce of prevention is well worth a few minutes of time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Letter to Supporters

Officer Clarke with youth who recently volunteered
at Young Pheasant Release program.


Dear Supporters,

Our summer events are well under way. Unfortunately, Police Center funds are critically low. High gas prices have impacted our youth programming efforts. Whether it’s the cost of transporting youth to and from programs or picking up supplies, it all adds up.

Your past support has enabled us to provide regular youth programming throughout the year. We truly are in need of your help to continue these events. We’re currently seeking support for these upcoming events and programs:

• The Free Summer Breakfast and Lunch Program has begun. Monday through Friday 30 breakfasts and 60 lunches are made available to area children at the Police Center. Additional donations of hand soap and paper towels are costly supplies that are needed to supplement what is provided by the Food Bank. We urgently need these items to run this program.

• Our annual “Picnic With the Police and Fire Departments” is scheduled for Thursday, July 31, 11:00am – 4:30pm, (rain date Friday 1st August) in Washington Square Park. We are expecting an attendance of over 1,000 people. The picnic is a fun time for children and families in the community. Each year we offer free food, drinks and prizes for the families that attend. This is a big event and requires much planning and community support.

If you are interested in helping make our event a success, please consider donating: Hamburgers, hot dogs, rolls, drinks, ice (lots of ice for snow cones), snacks, napkins, paper plates, cups, Polaroid film, game prizes, face paints, etc. for approximately 900 neighborhood children.

If you wish to make a monetary donation, checks may be made out to the “Northside Community Police Center Fund” and mailed to 255 Wolf St, Syracuse, N.Y. 13208. Donations may be dropped off at the Northside Community Police Center or one of the Police Center volunteers will pick the items up at your business.

Your continued support is greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions, want to volunteer your time or the time of your employees, please contact me at 471-3257. Since this is a community event, please bring your families and employees to the picnic for lunch.

• Our Summer Camping Trip will take place in August. We will be in need of donations for that event. Details will be posted on our site.

• My daughter Alyssa recently graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College and is assisting us again this summer with the Free Meal Program. She is also planning reading and craft making activities for the children. Donations to assist with the purchase of supplies are needed.

An easy way to help us reduce expenses is to link with us online. Many of you visited our new website when it was launched in March, and since then we've seen steady growth and regular visitors from around the world. Subscribers have increased dramatically in recent weeks, and we appreciate those of you who are loyal readers.

Please continue to visit our website www.northsidepolice.com to access all the latest information on the main page. But don’t stop there. We need you to link with us so that updates can be sent to you in a timely fashion by email instead of snail mail.

The recent postage increase makes printing and mailing 2,000 letters and cards five times or more per year a burden on the budget. The letters have been posted on our site since January, along with frequent updates and articles of interest to supporters. The photos included in the cards can be accessed from our site as well, along with many more. Now you can subscribe to the blog from the main page of our website and receive our updates automatically.

In addition, please get added to our email list. To do so, go to our website home page, click on “Contact” and fill out the form, including your email address.

In other news, the Syracuse Police Dept. recently transitioned over to a new handgun. We are now carrying the Smith & Wesson M&P 45. As a Firearms Instructor, I have assisted with the transition classes over the past few months. I’ll be writing a blog post on the new handguns in the near future.

Last week, I assisted our DARE officers with their summer youth program, “G.R.E.A.T.” (Gang Resistance Education and Training). My role consisted of team building and instruction on the Ropes Challenge Course. Following that session, I became aware that the Young Pheasant Release program needed volunteers to assist in affixing blinders on the birds. So I asked the group and a few children volunteered to assist. You can read more about these events by visiting our site. The next group of G.R.E.A.T. youth will be going through the program July 28th-August 1st. I’ll be working with them again.

Remember, subscribe online to receive updates on these and other things happening at the Police Center.

Sincerely,

James K. Clarke
Police Officer
Northside Community Police Center

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Great Kids Volunteer at Young Pheasant Release Program


Several teens from the GREAT Program joined Officer Clarke, along with other sportsmen and women and their children as volunteers in an area Young Pheasant Release program yesterday.

In spite of the heat, the children and teens worked enthusiastically and tirelessly alongside the adults to help apply blinders to over 1,000 five week old pheasants. The purpose of the blinders is to prevent the young pheasants from attacking each other, as they are apt to do at this phase in their development.

Once the blinders were on, the pheasants were refreshed and transferred to large outdoor pens. There they will mature until the fall when they will be released into designated wildlife areas.

More pics here.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

GREAT Program: Summer 2008, Session I

Hi Everyone,

This whole week I am working with our DARE Officers in their Summer Youth Program G.R.E.A.T. –Gang Resistance Education and Training.

We are spending the days on Meachem Field off W. Seneca Turnpike doing team building activities with a group of 20 ten to thirteen year olds.

It's been plenty hot but that is not keeping us from enjoying our time together. They are a wonderful group of kids. They have lots of energy and are beginning to come together as a team.

We will continue working at Meachem Field until Friday, when we will spend the day on the Lafayette Ropes Challenge Course. Most of the young people are a little intimidated about climbing onto the high elements but the next couple days of team building and trust activities will prepare them for Friday.

It's quite a switch from a couple of weeks ago working with a corporate group, Allen International. It seems that I just can't make up my mind which groups I like working with more.

When I was with the corporate group I thought how nice it was to be working with a bunch of motivated adults. Now, when I am with these young people I think about the impact we might have on their young developing minds. Building good youth/police relations may help them resist making bad decisions like joining a gang. I guess I am happy to be working with various groups of people.

Motivating people to challenge themselves and make good choices is something I truly love to do.

Feel free to drop by and see how we are doing. Just, make sure to introduce yourself so as not to be a stranger watching from afar.

Have you challenged yourself today?

GREAT Program Pics: Summer 2008, Session I





Students participate in a team-building exercise.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fireworks



7/4 (Fireworks) '08, originally uploaded by a Dan of action.

If you missed any of the area fireworks displays that have taken place so far, check this guide for additional opportunities to see fireworks this weekend.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Neighborhood Crime Stats



Crime Stats, originally uploaded by northsidebloggr.

At the recent "Light Up The Night" event, Chief Gary Miguel reminded the audience that crime statistics are available online through the department website.

Statistics are presented by neighborhood segment, according to the TNT partitions. They are collected and presented for the prior six or twelve months of the year. Statistics for the first six months of this year are not available yet.

Stats for the Northside are available here.