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Town meeting in Williamson focuses on recent public safety concerns

Karen Mitchel has had several restless nights. A few days ago, her parents were the victims of a home invasion in Williamson. Her 73-year-old father was hurt after Sheriff’s deputies say a Macedon man broke into the home and assaulted him.

“I’ve had no sleep,” she said. “I’ve been up for a couple days now. But they’re very shaken. They don’t feel safe, and I don’t feel safe leaving them.”

Mitchel was one of dozens who attended a special public forum Monday night in Williamson, focusing on recent crime.

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts, who was one of the speakers at Monday’s forum, said the event was a chance to hear concerns from Williamson residents, and to see what can be done to help.

For some in attendance, the perception of a rise in crime in the Williamson was an issue. Virts said, statistically, there has not been a rise in crime rates – rather, he said, the public may be more aware of crime when it happens.

“This is not uncommon, where a community might have some peaks and valleys of things going on, and what we’ll find in the end, it’s a few people doing this, and we’ll try to engage those folks,” said Virts. “If it’s criminal activity going on, we’re going to arrest them. If there’s other resources that we can get them connected with, we want to do that – not only for the quality of life for the community, but for the quality of life for the individual.”

Several comments were directed to the topic of individuals perceived to be homeless, with some attendees suggesting a rise in their numbers may be playing a role in recent crime.

The stigma between the homeless and crime was one reason Ravone Burnel, assistant director of transitional housing for the Wayne County Action Program, attended Monday’s meeting.

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