Anti-crime effort continues in Pittsfield despite recent shootings

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) – As the homicide of a young woman in Pittsfield is investigated, officers are working hard to deter crime.

Thirty-four portable basketball hoops set up in Pittsfield neighborhoods to deter crime but after two shootings in two weeks near the hoops, are these community policing efforts working?

“Get out of your cruiser, people. It’s that simple!

That’s Officer Darren Derby’s mantra and he lives it every day.

His Facebook Page is filled with these interactions. It’s part of a department-wide community policing effort but the violence continues.

Asiyanna Jones, 22, was shot inside her car on Monday. The crime scene tape stretching past one of the hoops officer Derby hoped would prevent this kind of thing.

“It’s absolutely discouraging but at the same time it’s fuel for us in the community to keep pushing forward,” Derby said.

Keeping a dialogue with the community, that’s what he’s doing on Thursday at the Christian Center.

“Breaking barriers and creating a community where people realize we’re all in this together,” Ellen Merritt, Executive Director at the Christian Center, said.

Derby says it all starts with kids.

“Part of my daily routine is filling my cruiser with snacks and just interacting with kids,” Derby said.

Building trust and a bond and making them feel comfortable enough to confide in the police.

“And that to me to me is a huge reward and also shows me it’s working,” Derby said.

Despite continued violence, Derby says he won’t stop trying to connect with the community.

“You have to keep going if you decide, ‘hey I’m giving up because it’s not working, then who are they going to look forward to’,” Derby said.

Derby says the hoops are an investment and the hope is that the kids who play here will grow up and have a better relationship with police as adults.

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