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Mayoral Primary Candidate Q&A: Democrat Ed Pawlowski
The second in a series on the issues facing Allentown's next Mayor. The second issue: Public Safety.
QUESTION 1: Allentown has seen the number of serious crimes increase in each of the last four years. How do you plan to reduce the city's crime rate?
Allentown has seen the number of serious crimes increase in each of the last four years. How do you plan to reduce the city's crime rate?
As a homeowner, husband, and father who has chosen to live and work in center city, I know the importance of public safety in our city. In a Pawlowski Administration, public safety (i.e.: police, fire, and EMT) will be the highest priority.
For a crime to occur, three things are necessary: A Perpetrator, A Victim and A Place. By denying any one of these elements, (apprehending criminals, teaching people to avoid placing themselves in a dangerous environment, or changing those environments (lighting, fencing, removal of abandon properties, etc.), we can prevent the occurrence of crime.
To do this, a Pawlowski administration would deploy the following strategy to reduce crime:
I. Development of a Comprehensive Community Policing Plan
Change must be top down and bottom up! The development of a comprehensive plan for community policing is a critical first step in reducing crime and as Mayor I would solicit input from residents, command staff and uniformed officers to develop a comprehensive community policing plan as part of an overall strategy for the department's operations. Other cities have completed such plans and guidance and information is readily available. The Pennsylvania Regional Community Institute is one of 32 national institutes funded by the U.S. Dept. of Justice with offices in Allentown and Pittsburgh are in position to provide invaluable technical assistance at no cost to the city. We must utilize this and other resources as we strive to have the preeminent police dept. in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
II. Utilize Crime Statistics and Information Proactively
Utilizing computer technology and crime data collection, we can most efficiently direct our personnel resources. User-friendly evaluation instruments can gauge effectiveness and efficiency. The annual Uniform Crime Code Report only tells us so much. By effectively using information technology police officers can make systematic and informed, tactical decisions on a weekly or even daily, basis. This type of data driven problem solving allows the department to focus their limited resources on the areas of greatest need.
III. Streamlining Department Command Structure
The Pawlowski administration would streamline the department's management structure, and re-deploy scarce resources to support the maximum number of officers on the street.
IV. Increasing Community Presence and Involvement
The 'C' must come before the 'P' in Community Policing. We must break down the "us-them" paradigm. Citizens must be actively involved and the police must accept and utilize this involvement. A police department that's accessible and a community that's involved is a winning recipe for Allentown.
One way to do this is by reinstating walking and bicycle patrols. Allentown shut down its bicycle patrols in 2002 and eliminated neighborhood police officers as part of a department restructuring aimed at deploying the maximum available force at critical patrol hours. These bikes patrols were a popular tactical element of community policing, which I feel, need to be deployed in a new community policing strategy. The city still has this equipment and as Mayor I will unlock the storage room where the police department's bicycle equipment has been sitting unused for years and put law enforcement officers back on two wheels.
QUESTION 2: Under Chief Stephen Kuhn, Allentown did away with its system of distinct community police officers, closing neighborhood offices and putting more police on patrols. Officers on patrol in newly mapped patrol areas are instead required to interact with the community while not responding to calls. What would "community policing" look like under your administration?
Under Chief Stephen Kuhn, Allentown did away with its system of distinct community police officers, closing neighborhood offices and putting more police on patrols. Officers on patrol in newly mapped patrol areas are instead required to interact with the community while not responding to calls. What would "community policing" look like under your administration?
Chief Joseph Blackburn and his staff have done an excellent job in organizing Allentown into police patrolled divisions. Chief Blackburn deserves support to continue the next phase in implementation of this plan. This operational adjustment allows the neighborhood to know the officers on patrol, brings those officers a sense of commitment and ownership to their sector, and sets the stage for the implementation of department wide Community Policing and Problem Solving. But this in and of itself is not community policing.
Community Policing as advocated by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the F.B.I., and virtually every other advocate of Community Policing is a three-legged stool.
I. The building of PARTNERSHIPS
Community policing in a Pawlowski administration will insist on maximum communication and collaboration between police management and most importantly between patrol officers and the community. The building of relationships and partnerships are critical. Police officers must utilize every opportunity to interact with citizens whether walking, biking, or driving.
II. An emphasis on PROBLEM SOLVING
Community Policing is both proactive and reactive. It is not a function of a special unit or division; every police officer must be a Community Police Officer. In the 21st century focusing on the apprehension of criminals alone, TRAIL 'EM, NAIL 'EM, AND JAIL 'EM, is not enough. We cannot simply arrest and incarcerate our way to a safe and healthy community.
III. An INTERAGENCY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Crime is a byproduct of urban decline and decay, deteriorating housing, poor infrastructure, littering, loitering, etc
the "BROKEN WINDOW THEORY". Crime cannot be addressed in a vacuum or solved by law enforcement initiatives exclusively. Reducing crime requires collaboration and partnerships with every municipal department, the business community, not for profit institutions, neighborhood groups, and all the good citizens of Allentown- it is not solely the responsibility of the police department.
A Pawlowski administration will operate within the philosophy and management structure of COMMUNITY ORDINATED GOVERNENCE. Partnerships, problem solving, and innovation will be the management strategy and overarching philosophy of every city employee during the Pawlowski administration. A Pawlowski administration will be defined by its service orientation.
In the past much lip service has been paid to the idea of community policing during recent administrations at City Hall and over the years Officers may have heard many contradicting things regarding community policing. Community policing is not soft on crime, but a proactive and reactive approach to deterring crime in the community.
QUESTION 3: After increasing the city's complement of police officers to about 230, Mayor Roy Afflerbach was forced to keep some positions open and lay off eight 8 officers in December, reducing the size of the force to about 220 officers. Will you increase the size of the police force, keep it the same or decrease it. If you increase it, how will you pay for it?
PAWLOWSKI RESPONSE:After increasing the city's complement of police officers to about 230, Mayor Roy Afflerbach was forced to keep some positions open and lay off eight 8 officers in December, reducing the size of the force to about 220 officers. Will you increase the size of the police force, keep it the same or decrease it. If you increase it, how will you pay for it?
As Mayor I would look for every opportunity to increase the size of the police to assure maximum coverage and safety for our citizens.
I would do this first by flattening out the hierarchy (eliminating the inspector positions) and thinning middle management. The savings from eliminating these positions would total over $235,000 and enable the city to put more officers on street patrols.
A Pawlowski administration will consider any and every source of funds to increase the number of police officers on Allentown streets. Creative partnerships with businesses, grant opportunities, and other funding avenues will be aggressively explored.
Programs such as Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), which utilizes volunteers to assist the police departments in key functions, will also be explored and utilized. This program has proven effective in many municipalities around the country (Concord, CA; Kent, WA; Laurel, MD; Harris County, TX; Charlottesville, NC) with great success and is fully supported by DOJ Community Policing Consortium, as well as National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Police Foundation, National Sheriffs Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and police unions around the country.
Finally being fully aware that federal, state, and local funding are currently limited, how we deploy the compliment of officers we currently have is the task immediately at hand. By exploring alternative and innovative deployment of manpower and encouraging community resources and involvement, we can make the most of any manpower compliment.
QUESTION 4: The Afflerbach administration has been criticized for allowing the police department to become top-heavy with highly paid supervisors. Would you reorganize the leadership structure of the department. If so, how?
The Afflerbach administration has been criticized for allowing the police department to become top-heavy with highly paid supervisors. Would you reorganize the leadership structure of the department. If so, how?
True Community Policing as a management strategy encourages the flattening of hierarchy, the thinning of middle management, and the empowerment of frontline officers.
A Pawlowski administration would streamline the police management structure, and support the maximum number of officers on the street through the elimination of the inspector positions.
Allentown has excellent men and women in its police department but the succession of chiefs the department endured over the past decade has left the force demoralized.
As Mayor, it is my intention to ensure that: a highly qualified law enforcement executive is chief, that we develop emerging management talent within the department, provide the best equipment and training available, and ensure that other city departments support the mission of the police, particularly the officers patrolling the streets who represent the front line and critical component.
The goal of a Pawlowski administration will be to ensure the third largest city in the state has the state's number one police department and lowest crime rates.