Washington, DC — One year after a Federal Bureau of Investigation led raid removed scores of gang members from the City of Newburgh’s streets, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), along with Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), are asking the federal government to do more. The lawmakers today invited FBI Director Robert S. Mueller to tour the beleaguered Orange County community to learn of progress that has been made and also see firsthand the need for additional federal resources, including the relocation of an FBI office to the city, to sustain and build upon that progress.
“It is long past time to put the full resources of the federal government to work attacking the gang problems that continue to haunt the City of Newburgh,” said Schumer. “I was pleased when Director Mueller told me he would give serious consideration to moving the FBI office to Newburgh and I remain committed to getting this done. A year after these groundbreaking raids there is still more work to do, and I believe it is important for the Director to see first-hand the full scope of the problem. Last year’s raids and those conducted in the early months of 2011 are clear evidence of progress, but the fight against gang violence must move full speed ahead.”
“There is nothing more important than the safety and security of our families and communities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “We can never allow the lure of gangs to surpass opportunities for our children to grow and our communities to thrive. Working with law enforcement and community leaders, we’ve made progress, but having the FBI Regional Headquarters in Newburgh would show a long term commitment from every level of government that keeping our neighborhoods safe is a priority. We need to fight back stronger with better resources for law enforcement, unite our community, and keep our families safe.”
“Newburgh is a dynamic and historic city with great people, but unfortunately gang violence and crime has remained a substantial problem,” said Hinchey. “Last year, following a 16 month investigation coordinated by the FBI in conjunction with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, we were able to remove dozens of criminal gang members from the streets. It was a very positive step forward in what needs to be considered a long fight to win back the streets for the people of Newburgh. That’s the kind of cooperation we need more of, and we hope that Director Mueller will join us for a tour of Newburgh so he can witness firsthand the need for additional federal resources, including the potential relocation of an FBI office to within city limits.”
The federal legislators have worked together for years to help deliver the federal crime fighting resources Newburgh needs. Last year, they sought a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation that would enhance future coordination of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies by providing equipment, technology and additional resources to combat the drug trafficking on which gangs thrive. The HIDTA designation is now pending a period consideration process at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Schumer, Gillibrand and Hinchey have also encouraged the FBI to consider the City of Newburgh as a potential site for the Bureau’s Hudson Valley field office. Last year the FBI indicated it had outgrown its current facility in Goshen and would be moving the Hudson Valley Resident Agency. At a recent committee hearing, Mueller indicated to Schumer that the FBI was considering placing the office in the City of Newburgh. However, a letter from the FBI’s regional director suggested the opposite. The senators and representative believe a visit to Newburgh would provide the Director with a firsthand understanding of the reasons it would be beneficial for the FBI to locate there.
The full text of the letter to Mueller follows:
May 13, 2011
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller III, Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
U.S. Department of Justice
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535
Dear Director Mueller:
As you know, we are strongly supportive of the FBI relocating the Hudson Valley Resident Agency (HVRA) offices to the City of Newburgh. As such, we invite you to visit Newburgh to better understand the high incidence of drug and gang violence in one of our country’s most dangerous small cities.
Relative to other municipalities across the country, Newburgh has seen disproportionally high rates of assaults and murders in the last several years, making the city among the most violent in the nation per capita. The violence in this small city of 29,000 residents is so pronounced that it has drawn the attention of Attorney General Holder.
At a recent FBI Oversight Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you agreed to consider Newburgh as the Bureau makes its final decision on relocation. We believe that a first-hand assessment would enable you to make the most informed and appropriate decision. Visiting Newburgh will give you an opportunity to view the City’s violence-prone areas, meet with local law enforcement officers, and speak with community leaders.
Exactly one year ago, the FBI demonstrated its commitment to Newburgh’s exceedingly high crime rate in an anti-gang sting that landed 78 gang members in jail. Today, we urge you to begin to redouble those efforts by joining us to visit this troubled city. Together, we can help secure a safer future for the residents of Newburgh.
We look forward to your response and appreciate your personal attention to this important matter.
Representative Maurice D. Hinchey
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand