In response to a surge in Ulster crimes with links to Poughkeepsie, Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said that he’s exploring the possibility of forming a task force to link law enforcement efforts on both sides of the Hudson.
The proposal is still in its earliest stages but Carnright said a series of violent incidents, including a January nightclub shooting in Lloyd and the Easter Sunday killing at a New Paltz bar, both linked to Poughkeepsie incidents, highlighted the impact of spiraling violence on Ulster County.
“Six years ago a lot of our crime was coming from the south straight up, drug and gang activity with roots in the Bronx,” said Carnright. “Today we’re seeing more of a connection with Poughkeepsie.”
Poughkeepsie’s been hit with a surge in violence, recording eight homicides in 2013 compared with one in 2012. 2013 also saw 33 incidents of gunplay in the city.
Basheem Bennett is facing murder and assault charges for an April 20 shooting at Murphy’s Restaurant & Pub in New Paltz that left Poughkeepsie resident Ryan Gray dead and an unidentified woman wounded. Police say Bennett, also a Poughkeepsie resident, was looking to avenge a November 2013 killing in the city. On January 25, four Poughkeepsie men were arrested after a flurry of gunshots in the parking lot of the Home nightclub in Lloyd left two men wounded. A third man was shot and wounded by police following a high-speed chase on Route 9W.
Meanwhile, cops in Kingston and southern Ulster County have reported a noticeable spike in Poughkeepsie-based drug dealers crossing the river to peddle their wares. Last year the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team took down a ring of Poughkeepsie residents accused of running a prostitution and narcotics operation from a motel on Route 9W.
Town of Lloyd Police Chief Daniel Waage said this week there had always been a “steady level” of Poughkeepsie-linked drug activity in the community. But he said the problems had “amped up” along with the level of violence in the city. Waage, who previously served with URGENT, attributed the violence in part to the surging popularity of heroin and prescription narcotics. Drug dealers, he said, were scrambling to meet the demand, leading to violent disputes.
“There’s been such an influx, so much demand and guys are moving into the market,” said Waage. “Drugs and money propel most of this.”