Pittsfield community meeting to address recent violence


PITTSFIELD — City councilors and concerned members of the community will be meeting Thursday morning to discuss the recent spate of violence within the city.

Over the last two weekends, two people, including a 17-year-old have been shot and one person has been stabbed.

Both shooting victims suffered injuries that were not considered life threatening, the stabbing victim required multiple surgeries and was "close to death," according to police.

Ward 5 City Councilor Donna Todd Rivers said she hopes the meeting — scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Ralph Froio Senior Center — will be an opportunity for people to get involved in their own neighborhoods with things like neighborhood watches and phone-trees to alert neighbors to trouble.

"Will it stop the violence? No," Rivers said. "Will it make it easier for the Pittsfield Police Department to apprehend people? Absolutely."

Rivers said she hopes that if potential criminals become aware that particular neighborhoods are monitored from within, they'll be less likely to target those areas.

Rivers said she prefers change that comes from grass-roots or "bottom-up" efforts spearheaded by residents than relying solely on "top-down" government initiatives to respond to crime and violence.

If both the top-down and bottom-up efforts are in place, Rivers said, crime and violence can be, "squeezed right out of our community."

Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell said Wednesday he also hopes the meeting will encourage people to take stock of their own neighborhoods.

Connell applauded efforts by the Pittsfield Police Department to bolster its ranks, noting 11 recruits currently enrolled in the Police Academy, but said it will still be some time before those officers will be on the street.

In the meantime, Connell also suggested things like neighborhood watches to take some of the burden off of a department that's already stretched thin.

"Now's the time to do that," Connell said. "The city's doing the best it can."

In a statement released Tuesday, Mayor Linda Tyer encouraged residents to advocate for the financial resources required to support the Police Department going forward.

She also lauded the city's youth mentoring initiative and the Working Cities grant projects as steps to enrich the quality of life for residents.

"This work helps to strengthen the fabric of our communities through opportunity and collaboration, necessary elements to reduce the occurrences of violence and increase the possibilities for a better life," Tyer said. "Through Pittsfield Community Connection, teens and young adults have access to mentoring opportunities and other resources to help them lead more engaged lives."

Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn said Wednesday that both shooting investigations are open and ongoing.

A suspect in the stabbing, Selvin Orlando Gonzalez-Castillo, was arrested and arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court last week.

"We encourage anyone with any information related to the shootings, or any suspicious activity in the area before or after the shootings to contact the Detective Bureau," Wynn said. "Any information, no matter how apparently insignificant it may seem, is valuable to the investigators working these cases."

The Pittsfield Police Department's Detective Bureau can be reached at 413-448-9705.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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