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Walt Shepperd's City Agenda Report 2010: Police Chief on Safety

Frank Fowler: Public safety means the public feeling safe

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of interviews with people prominent in areas on the agenda for the city under a new administration. This week the discussion of public safety is with Chief of Police Frank Fowler.

Public safety seemed to come up in almost every mayoral forum in the past campaign. What does public safety mean from a law enforcement perspective?

Public safety is the ability to create an atmosphere in which everyone in our geographic area of law enforcement feels safe going about their day-to-day business.

Given contemporary American society, is it an impossible dream that everyone can feel safe?

No, I don't think that's impossible. It's a daunting task. It would take a lot of effort, but I don't think it's impossible.

It would seem, statistically, that any of us would have more of a chance to get hit by a car from an inattentive driver who is talking on a cell phone than to get shot in the street. Yet the latter seems a greater police priority. How do you establish priorities?

You don't necessarily pick. It's a very delicate balancing act. Both those items are of equal importance. You'd be doing the citizens of this community a disservice if you ignored one to be more aggressive or dedicate more resources to the next. You have to address both simultaneously, and it becomes a very delicate balancing act with limited resources and manpower.

We have a great intelligence section here at the Syracuse Police Department that we rely very heavily on to point out to us trends in violence and where we're having our most issues in terms of violence. And we also use that for our quality of life issues. Those are the small things that affect the most people every day. We have our Crime Reduction Team that goes out to address those quality of life things, and we have our Gang Violence Task Force that goes out and addresses the gangsters that are out there shooting one another.

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