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Blueprint for Safety at the Neighborhood Action Conference Focuses on Youth

Maria Catanzarite/WAER News

Syracuse came together Saturday for the second annual. Neighborhood safety was the hot topic at the second annual Neighborhood Action Conference held at Fowler High School this past weekend.  Some residents feel fighting crime isn’t rocket science; it’s a matter of starting out small with the family and the neighborhood at the center.

“You better get your kids, because if you don’t, the boys in the blue will,” said Mary Alice Smothers.

Smothers, from the Westside Neighborhood in Syracuse, led the session on neighborhood safety at the conference.  She says crime prevention begins with the family plus giving kids a platform to speak their minds.

Credit Maria Catanarite/WAER News
Mary Alice Smothers led discussion on neighborhood safety

“If these kids aren’t involved in what’s going on in their neighborhood, it’s not going to work.  You have to get these kids the opportunity of saying what their problems are, what they feel is wrong.  Because if you want it to work, you’ve got to include them.”

Patty Farrington is a high school teacher from the South Avenue neighborhood. She also agrees the family needs more attention when considering solutions for crime prevention.

“If raising a child, and a child growing up, and a child gaining a conscience doesn’t occur then there’s a point at which, as our speaker said here, the guys in blue come in and take over.  Parents need to be responsible as well, and when their kids aren’t, both need to be held accountable."

After attending the session, Farrington says she’s encouraged to get the entire South Avenue area more involved.  Smothers adds having the whole block on the same page makes a neighborhood safer overall.

“When you do one block and you clear it out, and you move it over to the next block, and say ‘explain what you did, how it worked for you’ and then you move on and on.  And every time you accomplish something you celebrate that.”

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.