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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Crime

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Fighting Violent Gangs in Newburgh, NY

May 28, 2010 - 10:49 AM | by: Douglas Kennedy

Newburgh, New York once one of the prettiest river towns on the Hudson, is now home to the highest violent crime rate in New York state. Earlier this month the town was the scene of one of the largest gang bust on the east coast. “We have brought federal narcotics charges against 78 members and associates of 2 notorious national gangs,”  told U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

In the 1950’s Newburgh was a gateway town with its own commuter ferry that ushered upstate New Yorkers across the river and down to New York City, 60 miles away.

There is a lot of history here in Newburgh. It is home to the nation’s first official historical site: the house from which George Washington negotiated the British surrender and helped set up the country’s first government.

Nick Valentine is Newburgh’s current Mayor and he says problems here started with the construction of the Newburgh Beacon Bridge in 1963. The bridge construction meant the loss of commuters.

“Everything, everybody that would come downtown to the waterfront to take the ferry over to beacon went away,” explained Valentine.

Valentine also blames the federal government’s urban renewal project in the 1970’s which demolished homes and then failed to rebuild in the area. He credits the government for at least getting involved with law enforcement. He says the May gang bust was the first step in getting his city back on track.

“We need greater law enforcement, personnel, and we need jobs and accessibility to jobs for the people who live here,” says Valentine.

If the government is able to provide the monetary funds to support Newburgh then it seems there is hope in bringing this beautiful river town back to life.

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