2013 was an especially deadly year in the City of Utica. Seven people were killed compared with last year's all-time low of one. According to the UPD, this jump in the number of homicides doesn't mean the Utica's unsafe.
"You draw a lot of conclusions from these numbers and you say, ‘Wow the numbers are high or the numbers are low,’ sometimes it's just the circumstances. I actually think it's been safer than it has in a long time," said Sargent Steve Hauck of the UPD.
But one East Utica resident begs to differ.
"People are afraid to come out of their houses, they stay in their houses because they're afraid of their neighborhoods because of all the drugs, and violence, and guns that are out on the street," he said, anonymously.”
He wouldn't reveal his identity for fear that his neighbors, who he claims are dangerous, would retaliate against him.
"First they're partying, and then all of the sudden they're out on the street, it's like the Wild West out there, they're all fighting with guns, there's bullets flying all over the place," said the Utica resident.
Sergeant Hauck says illegally owned guns are a problem, and about half of the city's homicides this year involved shots fired--one of them happening just the day after Christmas. Police continue to search for the person who shot and killed Utica's latest homicide victim, Andrew Mateo, who was found on Memorial Parkway after his car hit a business.
A survey by the home ownership center of Utica focusing on the Cornhill area, found nearly half of those surveyed, feel unsafe walking at night. But that same survey showed nearly 90 percent of people are satisfied with their neighborhood and the majority expect to see a positive change.
Mayor Robert Palmieri echoes this sentiment, saying though homicides were up; most every other category of crime was down in 2013.
"Our violent crime is down, our burglaries are down, our larcenies are down, which I think in theory means the streets are safer and I think a homicide, and you can't really understand why that happens. We will continue to be as safe as we possibly can," said Mayor Palmieri.