Last Sunday evening, as we all know, a huge influx of individuals, principally from outside of our community, flooded New Roc City and our downtown in unprecedented numbers. We are grateful for the highly professional and effective conduct of our Police Department, with the timely assistance of neighboring PDs, in controlling this disturbance.
We believe, based on the evidence of nearly a decade of New Roc’s operation, with 15 million visitors, and based on an overall record of crime prevention that ranks New Rochelle among the safest cities in America, that this episode was an anomaly — a product of highly unusual circumstances that are unlikely to occur again.
Nonetheless, when our community is confronted by an episode of this kind, we all feel a sense of personal violation and grave concern. And while statistics and past performance offer context, which is important and relevant, our community deserves and expects more.
So today, we are announcing immediate, specific actions to provide the public with justified confidence in the safety and security of this center and our downtown as a whole.
Our city welcomed New Roc as a wholesome, family-friendly entertainment center. To reaffirm this tradition, New Roc has committed to the following policies and procedures:
Unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, no individual under the age of 18 will be permitted to enter the New Street Atrium, including the New Roc funhouse, after 6:00pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or holidays.
The New Roc funhouse will now close entirely one hour earlier.
To discourage loitering, all individuals under 18 entering the Funhouse, Ice Arena or Speedway will be required to make a minimum purchase of a $10 turbo card.
Police or security staff will be stationed at each of New Roc’s entrances.
New Roc will hire, at its expense, additional off-duty police officers during all hours of operation, up to ten at peak hours, beginning tonight. This is in addition to the two police officers who have long been stationed at the New Roc police facility and the twenty non-uniformed security personnel who work in the center.
Concurrently, the City will take the following actions:
We will accelerate the start of our summer security and youth outreach program on Anderson Street. These efforts, which have been underway for several years, involve the assistance of three police officers and four youth workers. They have generally commenced on Memorial Day. Instead, they will begin tonight.
Our Police Department will enhance its communication with Metro-North, so that, in the event a particularly large group boards a train at another location with the apparent desire of coming to New Rochelle, we will have some advance warning and an opportunity to prepare. This will become a matter of standard, ongoing operating procedure.
The City will continue to ramp up its overall police force and downtown police presence. In our last two budgets, we already added seven new officers, and we plan to phase in an additional eight in order to meet the needs of our growing city and central business district.
And this is a message for anyone who comes to New Rochelle with ill-intent – officers will employ a policy of zero tolerance for disorderly conduct or threatening behavior. Anyone who flouts the law will be arrested at once, with no exceptions.
All of these are important first steps.
But there is more we will do. In recent months, prior to this event, we have had conversations about transitioning New Roc into a primarily retail facility. Changes of this kind cannot as a practical matter happen overnight, but will be possible in conjunction with the dramatic transformation of the area including Trump Plaza and the expected critical addition of Lecount Square. New Roc Associates understands the importance of accomplishing this objective and will work with us to achieve it.
In short, the ongoing changes in our community, the extraordinary new private investment, the housing, the shops, the restaurants, the vibrant city we are building are all essential parts of the solution to this issue. And we must move forward with a strategic development plan that has worked and will work.
It is in the nature of complex cities, which grow and change, that problems will occur. The test is how we address these problems, how we learn from them, and how we become better as a result. I take Sunday’s event very seriously, as do we all, but my confidence in New Rochelle has never been stronger, and nothing will stop or even slow our renaissance.
Lastly, I have been asked in recent days what citizens can do to address this challenge. Well, let me make a suggestion. Tomorrow night, Saturday, my wife and I are going to the movies at New Roc. Blades of Glory at 8:15, if that matters. And we invite the people of New Rochelle to join us. If not that movie, another movie, any movie. Or enjoy dinner. Or go bowling.
Let’s demonstrate together that we won’t allow anyone to keep us from enjoying all our city has to offer, free from fear or concern. And that we won’t let anyone else define who we are as a community.
Let’s make clear, right away, for anyone who doubts it, that New Rochelle is a healthy, vibrant, diverse community of people who value families, respect their neighbors, and believe in their future.
I’ll see you at the movies, and we’ll be pleased to take questions.