Community Development Block Grant
York, PA - Mayor Charles Robertson
Street Crime Reduction Unit
In early 1998, in an effort to combat increasing violence and return a measure of stability to neighborhoods caught up in the "turf wars" of rival drug dealers, the York Police Department launched a new initiative: It formed a select unit of officers and a supervisor whose sole mission was to restore law and order in specific targeted areas. CDBG funds were provided for this initiative by the City's Department of Economic Development, as this special unit - the Street Crime Reduction Unit - would be patrolling neighborhoods in which there were substantial CDBG investments.
The use of CDBG funds for the Unit was consistent with the desires of residents. In the process of finalizing the City's Strategic Comprehensive Plan, residents said the perception and reality of safety was among their greatest concerns. Asked what City services should be given the highest priority for improvement, residents ranked police protection highest.
The Unit, consisting of six officers and a Sergeant, was given the mission of reducing violent street crime and drug dealing and addressing quality of life issues in the targeted neighborhoods. To establish the highest possible visibility, the Unit was outfitted with bright red shirts emblazoned front and back with the word "police." Freed of responsibility for responding to 911 calls, the Unit has the flexibility to adapt schedules and techniques, as necessary, to focus on the suppression of crime and violence in each neighborhood. CDBG funds are used to pay the overtime costs of the Unit as well as the overtime staffing needs of the patrol shifts from which the Unit officers were drawn.
In the first seven months of Unit operation, 565 arrests were made, primarily is three targeted areas where drug dealing and violence were most prevalent. These arrests were for violation of City ordinances, summary offenses, drug-related offenses, crimes against persons, and warrant service. Since the Unit has been on the streets, there have been fewer than six drug-related shootings, none of which were on the scale of earlier incidents which spurred the formation of the Unit. Vice and narcotics investigators also report a decrease in street corner drug dealing.
In many of the neighborhoods that have been targeted, residents who had complained of being prisoners in their own homes - and of being fearful of stray bullets coming into those homes - now say they can enjoy their neighborhoods. Officials say that the impact of the Unit on the quality of life in the City assures that it will continue to operate in the years ahead.
Contact: Leigh S. Smith, Director, Bureau of Housing Services, (717) 849-2305
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1999, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.