Yates: Shorthanded Quincy Police Department making sure appropriate number of officers will investigate shootings

Sixth and Chestnut

A look to north along Sixth Street at the intersection of Chestnut. Two Quincy men — Cayden Smith and Chaeto Nichols — believed to be connected to a Tuesday afternoon shooting near Sixth and Chestnut were arrested Wednesday. | David Adam

QUINCY — Even though the Quincy Police Department force is down by 18 officers, QPD Chief Adam Yates says he will make sure an appropriate number of officers are available to investigate a recent rash of shooting incidents in the northwest section of the city.

“We’re putting the number of people on these investigations that we need to have on there,” said Yates, who briefed members on the Human Rights Commission Thursday night about the shootings. “If that means paying overtime or calling folks in on off days, that’s what we’re going to do. We must make sure we can adequately staff and conduct these investigations. 

“It’s hard on our officers. I’m sure the community probably recognizes that. We have absolute minimums we will never drop below and what we believe are adequately needed to police the city. If that means we have to work extra shifts and unfortunately call our officers in and take them away from their families, we have a process to do that.”

Two Quincy men — Cayden Smith and Chaeto Nichols — believed to be connected to a Tuesday afternoon shooting near Sixth and Chestnut were arrested Wednesday. Investigators are still searching for a juvenile believed to be involved as well.

The Quincy Police Department continues to investigate shootings at 10th and Chestnut, the 800 block of North Fifth and the 900 block of North 11th that happened during an approximate two-hour window on Saturday.

Yates isn’t ready to connect the Saturday shootings with the Tuesday shooting.

“We’re still looking into the different dynamics associated with (the Saturday) shootings. We’re trying to determine whether they’re related to (Tuesday’s) shooting,” he said. “There are very loose indicators that some of the parties involved (on Tuesday) were involved with incidents from Saturday. There’s no real strong correlation at this point.

“I’m not prepared to say, ‘Yes, they’re related,’ but some of the same names have come up.”

Yates says five officers are in the field training program. One officer is at the police academy and set to graduate in December. Those officers would fill six of the 18 vacancies.

“We’d like to get more officers out of training and out on the streets,” he said.

Yates has heard concerns about the pace of the investigations of the shootings and asks people for patience.

“We take this type of criminal activity very seriously,” he said. “If we have enough evidence, if there are enough witness statements, if we gather enough information to make an arrest, we absolutely will. What folks need to remember is that as a police department, we absolutely want to keep the community safe. That’s our number one goal. No amount of crime is acceptable. Violent crime has such a detrimental effect on the quality of life of our citizens.

“We want to arrest and take criminals off the street. We also have to make sure we’re building a good case. When these individuals go to trial, there must be enough evidence to ensure they are held accountable for their actions. I know a lot of folks might not agree with the speed in which some of these investigations are completed. A lot of work has to go on behind the scenes to make sure we’ve built a solid case for the state’s attorney’s office.”

Information provided by eyewitnesses regarding the Sixth and Chestnut incident helped QPD officers make the two arrests.

“We had a lot of really good information and cooperation from the citizens who were out in the neighborhood,” Yates said. “If we don’t have that, it makes our job so much more difficult. We can’t be everywhere. For us to build a good case against suspects, we have to have good witness statements and good information. This was a great example of a lot of citizens helping us out.

“It’s very difficult to wrap your head around the fact we have individuals who think it’s OK to have a gun battle in the middle of a city street in broad daylight. Some folks have very little regard for human life and absolutely no regard for public safety or the repercussions of what they may be involved in. That’s the most frightening aspect of this. This type of reckless behavior will just not be tolerated.”

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