HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Mayor Joshua A. Garcia has revealed his comprehensive public safety strategy, named “Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets,” in memory of the newborn child who lost his life in a shooting incident on October 4th.
In the plan’s Executive Summary, Mayor Garcia emphasized the importance of balancing compassion and social justice with the city’s responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents. “Holyoke is a compassionate city, but that commitment to compassion and social justice must be balanced against our responsibility to provide for the safety and well-being of all our citizens,” Mayor Garcia stated.
The plan proposes a $1 million investment to initiate a holistic approach to public safety. This approach encompasses various components, including enhanced police enforcement, expanded foot and bike patrols, the recruitment of 13 additional police officers, the implementation of a citywide surveillance camera system integrated with ShotSpotter technology, increased oversight of rental properties, tenant and neighborhood protection strategies, the establishment of a Homeless Liaison/ Housing Navigator role, and the reinforcement of neighborhood outreach and engagement.
Mayor Garcia intends to present his public safety plan to the Holyoke City Council during a special meeting scheduled for November. Funding for the plan’s initiatives will be drawn from multiple sources, including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Capital Stabilization, Opioid Settlement funds, and local appropriations.
“Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets” is a collaborative effort involving various city departments, as well as local, state, and federal agencies, all working together to reduce violent crime and enhance the well-being of Holyoke’s residents, business owners, and visitors. While the plan emphasizes law enforcement, it also aims to introduce proactive strategies to address blight and other issues before they escalate into more significant problems, often attracting illegal activity, violence, and homelessness. These strategies include strengthening enforcement and establishing a new division within the Mayor’s Office for Community Response to assist residents with housing and neighborhood concerns, proactively addressing quality-of-life issues.
Mayor Garcia emphasized that the plan respects the constitutional rights of all citizens and is designed to tackle issues associated with drug trafficking, violence, and housing and neighborhood conditions.
The incident on October 4th, in which Ezekiel’s mother, eight months pregnant, was injured by a stray bullet, has prompted the city to take these proactive steps to improve public safety and the overall quality of life for Holyoke’s residents. Ezekiel’s mother is currently recovering from her injuries and has been reunited with Ezekiel’s father.
According to the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, they have deputies in both marked and unmarked cruisers as well as on the streets assisting with warrant apprehension, proactive patrols, and initiating arrests as needed.
The Sheriff’s Office operates the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative, which helps school-age children. The Hampden County Addiction Task Force also conducts overdose outreach in the city in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office.
“We will continue to assist the Holyoke police with both proactive and reactive capacities, in addition to our full-time deputies assigned to specific duties in the Paper City and on task forces working throughout the region,” said Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi. “ In short, we will proudly step up to protect the residents of the 23 cities and towns in Hampden County wherever there is a need.”Statement provided by the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office
WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in 1953 by providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on X @WWLP22News, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.