Amsterdam residents shouldn't view Tuesday's announcement of a major drug sweep as a sign the city is going to hell in a hand basket. Thanks to a cooperative effort between various law enforcement agencies, the arrest of nearly a dozen people is instead evidence that working together can put a dent in criminal activity and that those efforts should continue.
This most recent bust, the result of a five-month investigation, is not only significant in terms of the number of people arrested and the amount of drugs, cash and weapons seized. It also means several individuals connected with the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, an organized gang, are now off the streets. Law enforcement officials in Amsterdam have been publicly expressing concerns since the beginning of the year about gang activity in the city, and Tuesday's arrests is evidence that the threat is indeed real.
Amsterdam is not alone in dealing with increased criminal activity, nor should it have to combat the problem alone. The city police department got a major assist from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, the county district attorney's Office, state police, Schenectady police and the FBI in making this latest round of arrests. We hope to see more cooperative efforts like this in the future. With resources being tight across the board for everyone, combined efforts can be an effective way to deal with criminals.
Fighting crime doesn't have to stop and start with law enforcement, however. While the actual police work should be left to the professionals, city residents can play a significant role in keeping Amsterdam's streets safe.
The growth of the city's Neighborhood Watch program is one way people can get involved. Since the program took root a few years back, it has seen its share of successes. Several so-called "problem areas" have been addressed thanks to the efforts of the various chapters scattered throughout Amsterdam, and we hope to see that work continue.
But people don't have to join an organized group to take back their streets. Simply keeping your eyes and ears open for suspicious activity and immediately reporting it to authorities can go a long way toward improving public safety.
No neighborhood in Amsterdam is immune to criminal activity, and it's an issue that affects everyone, regardless of their address, socio-economic status or race. It makes sense for everyone should band together and make Amsterdam an unwelcome place for criminals.