The crime rate in Allentown continued to fall in 2015.
"That's another priority of mine, to continue with what we are doing as far as our patrol operations so that we can ensure that the crime rates stay down," said Keith Morris, the city's interim police chief.
Morris and Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced the decline Tuesday during a news conference that was called to release the police department’s 2015 annual report. It shows Uniform Crime Report Part I offenses in 2015 fell just less than 16 percent from 2014, and Part II offenses were down more than 12 percent.
Part I offenses have declined from 7,176 in 2006 to 3,743 in 2015, or just about 48 percent.
"The numbers reflect that initiatives we have undertaken have substantially impacted the rate of crime in the city," said Pawlowski. "Targeted enforcement, new training procedures, better tools and new technology are making the men and women of our department more effective and more impressive with every passing day."
"In 2015, the Allentown Police Department was still battling staffing shortages, as we were down 18 officers, but still experienced significant declines in crime," Morris said. "The decrease can be contributed to a number of factors, but I attribute it mostly to the hard work and dedication of our officers on the street. Further, we partnered with key community stakeholders to address crime and quality of life issues, utilized technology as a force multiplier, and re-engineered the focus of our crime analyst. Policing in the 21st century demands that we try to stay one step ahead of criminals in order to keep our community safe, so there was strong emphasis on predictive and intelligence-led policing."
The report includes Part I and violent and property crime trends dating back to 2000. It breaks down Part 1 crimes in each of the four police service areas (PSAs) and shows a map of each area. Part I crime is down significantly in each of the four PSAs in the city.
The communications center fielded more than 210,000 telephone calls and dispatched for nearly 155,000 police, fire, EMS, animal control and parking authority incidents.
The city has been rebuilding its police department since 54 officers were lost to retirement at the end of 2005. The city now has 220 officers. That is an increase of 13 from when the 2014 crime numbers were reported.
The city now has more than 170 cameras in its surveillance network, and more are being added. Camera operators in the Allentown Communications Center regularly monitor and record activity in public areas and also monitor particular areas in response to emergency calls. City cameras generated 487 calls for service from monitoring of the network at the center in 2015.
Morris said he is also working on improving relations between the community and police officers.
"Once we have that trust," he said, "we can forge those bonds with our community. It helps us do our job better."