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?
Type 1 crimes( serious) had decreased the last 6 years of my term as Mayor to 5292 cases. Crime increased in 2002 and 2003 to 6278 cases per year, no numbers are available for 2004. I believe that proper scheduling, utilization of existing police officers and the return of a true community police can again turn the tables on serious crime.
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?
I would return the community police to it's former position. Officers would not only get to know the people in the neighborhood as to who should or should not be there but it also reassures the community that they are not alone.Citizens are more responsive to help when they know who their partners are. Interaction when you are not handling calls does not work.
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?
I took over the leadership with 200 police officers and increased the force to 222 when I left. Increasing the force is utopia but not practical with the current income restraints. With proper utilization of our existing force we can again turn the tables on serious crime.
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?
I agree the department is top heavy and at the same time weak on active supervision out on the streets. At least one assistant chief, and the Inspector positions would be eliminated. Emphasis would be placed on more supervision involved in the patrolling of our city.