York Police chief addresses concerns after shooting

Written by Gordon Rago/York Daily Record | Jan 15, 2016 10:17 AM

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley speaks at a meeting for the Avenues neighborhood, where he addressed concerns surrounding a recent homicide.(Photo: Gordon Rago, York Daily Record)

(York) -- York City Police Chief Wes Kahley addressed a crowd of about 30 people Thursday night at a meeting for the Avenues neighborhood where the city's most recent homicide occurred.

About halfway through the meeting, Kahley wrote his cellphone number and email address on a large whiteboard. His message throughout the hour-and-a half talk was to encourage residents to be the police's ears and eyes when it comes to crime.

The message echoes what Kahley, Mayor Kim Bracey and city councilwoman Sandie Walker said on Monday during a press conference where they spoke about the need for community involvement after a recent spate of shootings.

There were 17 shootings in York during the month of December, with teenagers at the center of the violence.

Da'Keem Dennnison, 19, was shot and killed on December 18 in a home on Pennsylvania Avenue, police said.

Police have identified the people involved in the shooting, but are still working the investigation, Kahley said. No arrests have been made.

"It was targeted to that house," Kahley reassured residents at Thursday's meeting.

Kahley will sit down with his staff early on Friday morning during a weekly meeting meant to gauge the investigation into the Dennison killing along with other recent shootings to see "what arrests have been made, what arrests have not been made," the chief said. They will go over maps to find clusters of shootings.

The December spate in shootings was frustrating for Kahley, he said, because his department recently completed crime statistics for 2015, a year that he said saw a 12 percent drop in assaults with firearms.

Addressing concerns about neighborhood patrols and residential burglaries, Kahley went on to say that York City Police is working with federal law enforcement partners, including the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

But the department, which employs 92 officers, is stretched thin and can't immediately go out on every call, having to prioritize their time, he said. At one point Thursday, Kahley asked the crowd how many officers they thought the department had working at one time. One person thought 60 to which the chief laughed out loud. While not giving exact numbers, he said the department recently had retirements and that the budget crisis in the city last year saw younger people apply and leave for other departments.

"I wish that I could say tomorrow that I could take care of all the problems," Kahley said. "We don't have the resources a lot of places have. The feds are coming in and really helping us. Unfortunately, sometimes you face something like 17 people shot in less than a month's period time to get some help, but we're getting that and our guys continue to work."

One reason for the high number of shootings could be the recent indictment of 21 members of York's Southside gang, Kahley said.

"Unfortunately, we created a vacuum," he told the group. "And that's a lot of what the shooting is. There's a lot of money to be made in cities like York."

"There's a little bit of a turf war going on which is why you see this spike," Kahley added.

Vickie Rice, who lives on North Hartley Street, was in attendance and questioned Kahley about what the city as a whole can do in light of the increase in shootings. She voiced concern about continuing community-driven efforts after one shooting or after a rally held to condemn violence.

"What happens after the rallies? What are we going to do?" Rice said. "I know it starts at home, something to address these children. It starts with the parents."


This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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