45-year resident of West Hill reacts to Albany crime

June 14, 2018 10:44 AM

In the West Hill section of Albany, residents are frustrated. On the heels of the city's fourth homicide this year, many people are afraid to speak out, concerned for their own safety.

Richard Smalls is not one of them. He has called West Hill home for 45 years. In his home on Judson Street, the walls are covered with photos of his five children and 14 grandchildren. To look at them you might not think all of this happiness and success was built in one of the most crime-ridden parts of the city.

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"My youngest boy Matthew is a lawyer. My oldest son Michael was a lawyer. All of my children went to college, so I'm proud of my children. They know where they come from," said Smalls.

His home is a gem on an otherwise battered street. A report released by the FBI says crime in West Hill is 132 percent higher than the national average. Residents there have a one in 16 chance of becoming a victim of crime.

Smalls blames a lack of resources that is causing young adults to turn to crime because they know nothing else.

"There's no place for them to go. Nothing for them to do. There used to be a boys' club down the street. That's not there anymore. There used to be one in Arbor Hill Community Center. it's not there anymore," said Smalls.

On Tuesday a 20-year-old man was gunned down right around the corner from Smalls' home. One day later, his killer has not been caught. There is an increased police presence in the neighborhood and police are urging the public to help combat crime in the area.

"We need the community to be the eyes and ears of the police department because unfortunately, we can't have a cop on every corner. We can't be everywhere at once."

Smalls has a bit of advice to the younger generations that call West Hill home.

"It's not where you live, it's how you live and that's the problem," said Smalls.

He hopes someday his neighborhood will shine again.


Jacquie Slater

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