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Silver Creek Forum Focuses On Vandalism, Reaching Out

Trustee and Chautuauqa County Dispatcher Marv Cummings speaks at the Silver Creek community forum on Monday night. Cummings was the board member tasked with organizing the meeting.

SILVER CREEK — In response to the vandalism that has been happening in the village and the rest of Chautauqua County, the Village Board, Sheriff Jim Quattrone and Investigator Eric Vara held a community forum on Monday night at the Silver Creek baseball field.

The forum also provided an opportunity for Vara, Quattrone, and trustee and county dispatcher Marv Cummings to update the community on what has been happening with the case thus far. “No one has been arrested,” Vara said. “We are following several leads and reviewing several camera footages. I’ve been up and down Main Street trying to find camera footage.”

The criminal mischief and vandalism are not isolated to the village of Silver Creek, and have been reported in Fredonia and Dunkirk. Vara said that he is in the process of reviewing footage from places in Dunkirk and Fredonia as well in order to narrow down potential culprits.

“The current belief is that it is vehicles driving by and doing this,” Vara said. “I have a few vehicles in mind, but it’s hard to say how many suspects there are. The incidents are happening at all times through the night, and it is pretty confirmed that the damage is being done by beebee guns.”

Since so much of the information and discussion is occurring via Facebook, both Cummings and Vara had thoughts about the potential harm and help that this type of information spread can cause. Cummings said that posting information to Facebook is not equivalent to actually making the call to the police, should anyone have information.

“If you see something, say something,” Marv said. “It doesn’t matter how petty you think it is. Make the phone call. All the information is very important, it all gets funnelled back to investigator Vara. Don’t just put it on Facebook, make a phone call and talk to someone.”

Meanwhile Vara said that he is monitoring the various Silver Creek Facebook pages for information, though he wants to stress that people stick to the facts so as to not spread false information.

“I do see a lot of misinformation going through there,” Vara said. “A lot of stuff happening there is in progress stuff that’s happening. That can ruin an investigation we’re looking into. It’s good to talk and make sure you know what’s going on, but just make sure it’s factual. But there is stuff on there that is beneficial. There are a lot of positives coming out of it too.”

Suggestions from the community included potential community service for those who are responsible, although the logistics of that are murky. As it stands in New York state, the punishment for minors is a $50 fine that can increase if repeat offenses happen. Should it escalate further, parents of the kids can also be held accountable.

“We can’t do community service because it’s not in the law,” said Silver Creek Trustee Stephen Romanik. “And who is going to supervise it? If they come down here and pick leaves and get hurt, it’s on the village if anyone gets injured. I would love to see someone out here mowing lawns if they got caught, but it’s not in the village code.”

Also proposed was additional cameras placed at busy intersections, such as Routes 5 and 20 in Silver Creek, in order to stop these crimes and any other potential crimes. Quattrone said that they are talking to DFT Communications about those very cameras, but Vara said it ultimately comes down to funding.

“A lot of it comes down to funding,” Vara said. “It’s all about what the village can afford. Everything costs money, but that is definitely a great spot for cameras.”

Because likely suspects for the vandalisms are youth, people attending the community forum posed questions as to what Silver Creek Central School could potentially do to help out those kids in need. With COVID-19 halting most of what people can do in the town, Silver Creek Superintendent Todd Crandall said that the school is trying to offer as many after school activities as possible, citing that “idle time is evil time.”

“We need counselors and psychologists. We need the immediacy of solving the problem, while also fixing the long term. How do we try to solve that?” Crandall said. “We try to offer more after school activities, and there’s only a small percentage of students who are unengaged but those students are in tough shape right now.”

Quattrone added that, should it be needed, the Sheriff’s Department could seek assistance from the State Police. The consensus of both the community members who attended, as well as the Village officials who organized the event was that these meetings should happen semi-regularly.

“This is great,” Quattrone said. “This is something we should be doing not just in Silver Creek and Hanover but in the whole county. This is how we can get better at our jobs, by getting the community involved.”

If anyone has any information about the vandalism in Silver Creek, or the other places in Chautauqua County, you can contact the department or Vara at 753-4910.

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