Allentown needs solutions, not more analysis. This past April, Lehigh Valley Somebody ran a great post asking readers for idea for the Americus Hotel building, and there were some interesting, well-thought-out comments. Perhaps you could ask similarly for ideas from your readers as to how to constructively tackle Allentown's crime issues? You will probably have to remove a few useless, offensive comments, but I think some pretty good ideas will come through, too. Everyday citizens who actually live and work with this issue can be a valuable source on information, but all too often their voices are drowned out by community leaders who aren't really in touch, although their intentions are good.
In March, super blogger Pam Varkony attended a crime watch meeting, and distilled Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's approach to public safety.
** The APD will be back up to "full compliment of 211 by September. It's not like Mayberry. We can't stick a badge on someone and send them out there."
** 100 sophisticated wireless cameras will be distributed throughout the city by the end of the summer. The activity seen by these cameras shows on 12 screens at the Communications Center. Additional dispatchers are being hired.
** New "shot recognition" technology will cover an approx. 2 mile radius in the "bad areas" of the city. The technology is being paid for in great part by the city's 20% cut of $1.2 million confiscated in a drug bust.
** "Engaging the community" is a key piece to fighting crime. Using the city's churches and faith based initiatives, citizen patrols will be trained to monitor their neighborhoods.
** The administration and APD have developed a strategy of focusing on "hot spots"; places that are frequent sources of 911 calls. There were 512 calls from the Hotel Traylor in an 18 month period. Since the "hot spot" program has been in place, there have been "almost no calls at this location".
** "Almost 1/3 of the APD is made up of new officers. We are training a new breed of police officer to get back out on the street."
** The administration will be holding a public meeting at the end of May to unveil their new Community Policing program.
How can he do better? How can we do better?