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Sheriff: Economy is down, but so is prison population

Despite the backdrop of a recession, county and state officials say that Schenectady County crime has only risen slightly this year, and the prison population has decreased.

From my observation at the county jail, the prisoner population is down. It comes as quite a surprise to me, because I was expecting that the economics of the world would play their part, particularly in levels of crime, said Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi.

In speaking about Schenectady County in general, he listed a few possible reasons for the decline, including a changing and declining population in the City of Schenectady.

"There have been groups of people coming into the community that have invested [here], like the Guyanese people who are working to maintain [their properties]," said Buffardi, referring to former City of Schenectady Mayor Al Jurczynski's efforts to lure some of the Guyanese population from New York City to Schenectady.

"They seem to have upgraded the stature; they've bought a number of properties and improved on them," said Buffardi.

"I've noticed some of the properties in Schenectady that they own are tremendously improved. They've gone into areas of the community that were sometimes on the downturn and they've improved those properties and brought stability to those neighborhoods."

According to Buffardi, there are about 17 Counties in New York State, outside of New York City, that are accountable for 85 percent of the state's crime. He said that resources from a program taking place throughout certain counties in New York state called Project IMPACT, have helped to reduce crime in Schenectady County over the past several years, as well as in the others that participate.

"There's a team approach to bring in all the resources, social as well as governmental, working together. Like the police and district attorney and the sheriff," said Buffardi.

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