Dorney said police will be on patrol throughout the revitalized downtown, so people will feel secure enjoying its new restaurants and other amenities.
Eichenwald said thousands more people will be coming to downtown Allentown to work, dine out and participate in downtown life on a day-to-day basis – not only when arena events are scheduled.
Police force to increase
Dorney said police plan to have more officers on duty downtown. He said now four police cars cover center city, but that potentially could eventually increase to as many as nine or 10 cars working that area.
He said that will take more manpower, explaining the department wants to get up to a full complement of 216 officers. He said right now it has about 200.
“Our goal date is to get back up to full staff by the end of June,” said Dorney, adding the process of hiring those police officers is underway.
At least some new hires will require training, which can take nearly a year until they can patrol the city on their own.
Dorney said police don’t want to reassign officers now patrolling other parts of downtown to center city. He explained money not being spent on salaries for those 16 additional officers is being used to pay the overtime of current officers.
He said police already have increased downtown patrols and crime in some sections of center city has dropped 21 percent compared to this time last year.
Hendricks, a retired Allentown police captain who also serves on the public safety committee, said he hopes more police officers will patrol downtown on bicycles.
“They’re extremely effective. They’re quiet; almost a stealth patrol.”
Police chase protocol
Eichenwald also wanted to know if any protocols have changed since the April 25 “police chase through the city,” in which three police officers were injured.
She mentioned there was big discussion about changing police pursuit protocols after the 2009 death of Carmen Rodriguez of Allentown. Rodriguez was fatally injured in 2009 when a man driving a stolen SUV slammed into her car at Eighth and Walnut streets. Police had chased that stolen vehicle from Bethlehem to Allentown.
Dorney said police policies are reviewed every two years “and we constantly look at what we can change to do better based on de-briefings of incidents that occur.”
He said police still are actively doing an internal investigation of the April 25 pursuit. He said that will be wrapped up in a week or two, because some officers involved are not yet back to work.
Dorney said one of the injured police officers, Scott Magill, has not yet returned to work “but he’s got no permanent damage.”
Magill is a bicycle officer who was struck by the suspect’s vehicle during the chase.