BUFFALO, N.Y. — John Poniewierski was one of more than a dozen people who voiced concerns in a community forum held at Southside Elementary School.
"We have a big drug problem in Kiesertown as we do in the whole City of Buffalo and we have to do something to stop this," Poniewierski said.
He's lived in South Buffalo for 70 years. While crime looks like it's going down, he believes absentee landlords play a role in drug-related crimes.
We asked Buffalo Police what they're doing in response to these complaints. They referenced Thursday's meeting as an example of educating people on the importance of reporting crimes.
They also said the narcotics squad stays extremely busy.
"In the past month, we've done 24 search warrants in 30 days," said Dennis Richards, the chief of detectives with the Buffalo Police Department." That resulted in 34 arrests so we're very very active and that's just one example of what we do each and every week and each and every day."
Richards said the city has seen a lot of improvements, like the dramatic decrease in opioid-related deaths, but he told 2 On Your Side it takes the entire community to solve the problem.
"It can creep up anywhere, any time," Richards said. "What's really important is that people say something if they do see something because that's when the police become involved."
Officials said they take community complaints extremely serious, but they told 2 On Your Side in some cases, they just don't have enough manpower.
"It's the largest geographic district in the city and from what I understand we have the least amount of manpower so we would like to see an increase in that manpower in A-District," said Chris Scanlon, Buffalo Common Council member.
Scanlon added, "We can't stress enough to people that are watching at home, that if they see something, they need to say something."