Schumer: Move FBI office to Newburgh
Two days after a woman and two men were gunned down in Newburgh, Sen. Chuck Schumer repeated calls for the FBI to relocate its regional office to the beleaguered city.
Schumer made the remarks during a news conference in front of Newburgh City Hall, flanked by Mayor Judy Kennedy and city leaders.
Noting FBI leaders and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara "have agreed to do more" to fight violence in the city of 29,000, Schumer said he first called for the FBI to move its regional office to Newburgh in 2010.
Schumer said he'd "try to get an answer from them as to what's taking them so long. It is too long."
Violence became the main narrative in the city again after Wednesday's triple slaying, in which 43-year-old John "FoFo" Lewis, Henry Blue, 52, and Pamela Jenkins, 52, were gunned down in a William Street apartment. Police, who said the victims were not gang members or players in the city's drug trade, have questioned several people but have not made an arrest in the case. They've been tight-lipped about the details of the murders and have not answered questions from the press.
In January, Newburgh made headlines again for the wrong reasons when the website Neighborhoodscout.com ranked the city as the ninth most dangerous place to live in the U.S., based on crime statistics reported by the city's police department. In 2010, Newburgh earned the dubious nickname of "the murder capital of New York State" with the highest per-capita murder rate in New York that year.
And in April, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon called Newburgh "the most pathetic place in the State of New York" while sentencing a member of the Bloods gang who pleaded guilty to a 2009 murder in the city.
Kennedy, who took umbrage at McMahon's comments and blamed the judge for helping to perpetuate "a negative view" of the city, sounded a different note Wednesday as she was interviewed near the crime scene, with detectives and federal agents shuffling back and forth from the apartment behind her.
"We absolutely recognize that we have a problem, and we're doing something about it," Kennedy said.
Schumer said he thinks more could be done with the help of federal agents, as the cash-strapped city can't afford to hire more police officers for its already-understaffed department.
Last year, the FBI transferred agent James Gagliano, who commanded the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force and was seen as a positive force for change in the city. The FBI never responded to questions about why it transferred Gagliano, and did not return several calls from Newsday after the transfer.
A message was left Friday evening with Schumer's office.
In 2010, when FBI brass were considering relocating the bureau's regional office from Goshen to Newburgh, Schumer latched on to the idea, sending a letter to then-FBI Director Robert S. Muller.
"Newburgh is dealing with an unprecedented level of crime and we've got to give law enforcement all the resources they need to keep people safe," Schumer said at the time. "There is no substitute for having boots on the ground."