ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Southern Tier is suffering what officials call an increase in lawlessness, as reports of shots fired and other violent crimes echo throughout the region on a more regular basis than ever before. Multiple law enforcement agencies now blaming changing state policies and laws. They call on Albany to take action.
“Bail reform has been a major problem for us. It has created an atmosphere within the community that there is not going to be any immediate consequence [for their actions],” Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore, Esq. told 18 News.
He noted since last year when the laws change, the state has seen an uptick in crime. He also blames national changes for the sweeping increase in violence, which have trickled down to the Southern Tier.
For Chemung County Sheriff William Schrom, the change in the New York State Discovery Laws, which protected witnesses’ anonymity, caused a general distrust between residents and law enforcement.
“Now, information early on an investigation is turned over to a defense attorney. These people [witnesses] are definitely more vulnerable now than they ever were [before]. The previous system at least would have allowed the district attorney’s office to protect that witness until the absolute last minute,” Chemung County Sheriff Schrom added.
There is a clear uptick in violent crime and the changing laws from Albany correlate to the time of the spike, according to officials.
“We have seen a substantial significant change in the activity of crime since a lot of these new laws were incorporated,” Sheriff Schrom continued.
District Attorney Wetmore said there is no easy solution to this rise in crime and is not sure if a law and order approach will work.
“Should we be putting all these young kids that are possessing loaded firearms in prison for substantial sentences? Maybe,” District Attorney Wetmore said. “Is that going to solve it? Maybe it will have a deterrent effect and they’ll realize that there is going to be some justice.”
While law enforcement tries to find answers, they encourage the community to help in any way they can because witness reports can be helpful in combating the violence.