Police captain transforming Syracuse neighborhoods, reducing crime through design

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) —  Imagine taking your kids out for a walk and fearing gunfire, or having a front row seat to drug dealing. You would feel like Syracuse resident Sandra Hallings.

“[I have] fear, fear because if my son is going to come out the door, or if I’m going to cross the street and get shot, or stabbed, or kidnapped?,” Hallings said.

However, Hallings is more at ease now, after her Gifford Street block got the attention of Syracuse Police Captain Michael Yarema. Using his Federal Department of Justice training, he has been fighting crime through environmental design in neighborhoods including Hallings’.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) theories contend that law enforcement officers, architects, city planners, landscape and interior designers, and resident volunteers can create a climate of safety in a community right from the start.

Captain Yarema aims to use this concept to transform neighborhoods by implementing thoughtful environmental design. 

“By closing the cut off that went through their yard, it took illicit activity out of their yard, and gave it back to them for a long time and when we put our crews together and brought the people from city hall down here, they were able to write some tickets get some enforcement done, and the sidewalks were replaced.”  

Captain Michael Yarema

Yarema has been quietly transforming other neighborhoods, like East Raynor Avenue, where free space became a magnet for prostitution, drug deals and a common dumping ground.

Now, a year later, that area has been transformed. What was once a huge pile of debris is now completely gone due to the teamwork of the community and Yarema bringing resources to the area. 

John Smith, a resident of the East Raynor Avenue neighborhood said: “We all got together. we started cleaning up, and [Yarema] came down to help us, and brought the cans down to help with that.”

Using the CPTED approach, communities can come together and get involved in reducing crime in their neighborhoods as well as come together in the process.  Otis Thomas, another resident of the East Raynor Avenue neighborhood, can attest to this.

“(..)if we do good with each other, everything else falls in harmony. It’s about all of us.” 

Otis Thomas, East Raynor Avenue resident

With patches of neglect gone, the latest crime statistics support the concept. If you want Captain Yarema to take a look at your city neighborhood, give him a call at 315-442-5339.

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