PITTSFIELD — City Councilor and mayoral challenger Melissa Mazzeo is accusing Mayor Linda Tyer of "inaction" on the city's crime problem.
"Having gone door-to-door throughout the city, it's not only the West Side that is questioning the lack of responsiveness to recent violence, it is every resident of the city," Mazzeo said in a statement.
Tyer pointed back at Mazzeo and said the longtime city councilor also is in a position to address the crime problem and hasn't.
"`I can't do it from this seat' is an excuse for her lack of accomplishments," Tyer said of Mazzeo.
"I spent this past week on the West Side and one resident relayed, 'I have lived here my whole life and have never seen it so bad,'" Mazzeo said. "No one in this city should feel that way ... no one."
Mazzeo and Tyer are among four contenders for the mayor's position. Others vying for the job include Rusty Anchor owner Scott Graves and retired police officer Karen Kalinowsky. The race heads to a preliminary election on Sept. 17; from there, the top two vote-getters will compete for the job in the general election on Nov. 5.
In her statement, Mazzeo asked why the mayor isn't holding community meetings. And she went on to criticize Police Chief Michael Wynn for "not responding as to what his strategies are to combat this level of unacceptable crime" and District Attorney Andrea Harrington for being "incredibly slow" to release information to the public following incidents like last week's fatal shooting on Columbus Avenue.
Without that, Mazzeo said, residents are left to question what is happening.
"It leaves me wondering if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing," Mazzeo said.
Andy McKeever, a spokesman for Harrington, declined to comment for this story. Wynn said he was unavailable, but that he had passed along comments to Tyer.
To address issues surrounding crime and policing in the city, Tyer said she has worked with Wynn to expand the ranks of the Pittsfield Police Department; increase community policing; and launch the Police Advisory and Review Board, the West Side Community Outreach Post and ShotSpotter, the technology that immediately alerts police to gunshots and provides their precise location.
Tyer said she has participated in at least one community meeting, citing one last year held following a rash of violent crime. Tyer said Mazzeo wasn't there, nor was she at the grand opening of the new police outpost in the West Side.
Mazzeo said the city should be looking to other communities for guidance on cutting back crime and identify clear strategies, like New York City's Patrol Allocation Plan, which deploys officers in high volumes to neighborhoods seeing a spike in crime.
"Why is Pittsfield not doing this?" Mazzeo asked.
"Unfortunately, she's misinformed," Tyer said. "Because we do use that strategy."
Tyer said staff at the department compile daily briefings that include crime statistics, and that department leaders use the information to more strategically allocate resources.
Mazzeo said the mayor's efforts have not been enough.
"As mayor, I will work day in and day out with our department heads to find solutions to this frightening problem. Inaction will not stand," she said in her release. "We have too many dedicated and talented police who can and should be deployed effectively."
Amanda Drane can be contacted at email@example.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.