For police who patrol certain Northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods, 2013 is starting off with the lowest crime rates in an entire year. This comes after a turbulent year of violent offenses and increases in property crime.
As reported by Philadelphia Police officials at January’s Police Service Area One meeting, as of Jan. 30, 78 violent and major property crimes were reported in the section of the 39th Police District that includes East Falls, Germantown, and Allegheny West.
Lt. Edward Bier, who oversees police activity in PSA-1, said that these figures are the lowest since January 2012, when only 66 Part One crimes took place. Crime peaked last year in April of 2012 when 180 offenses were reported.
“The cold weather is our friend,” remarked Bier, who projected that crime totals for January 2013 would tally to 83.
A focus on curbing burglaries and thefts
Of the 78 incidents recorded in January, 17 were thefts from vehicles, and 15 were residential burglaries, prompting Bier to relate that these two areas will be the focus of police strategy for the coming year.
As per Philadelphia Police Department doctrine, PSA lieutenants must create a PSA Action Plan once a year to systematically address crime trends in the subsection of the police district to which they are assigned.
In PSA-1, 2012’s Action Plan was a targeted focus on curbing gun violence. According to Bier, increased police presence, public awareness, and utilization of the city’s 911 system led to a 14.4-percent reduction in gun violence from 2011. Also of assistance were increased vehicle and pedestrian investigations – so-called “vehicle stops” and “ped stops” – which almost doubled from 2011 from an average of approximately 12 stops per day to 21.
Bier explained that burglaries and theft from vehicles will be the focus of the current PSA-1 Action Plan, as 2012 experienced a 31.9-percent jump in burglaries – 245, up from 186 in 2011 – and a 54-percent increase in thefts from vehicles, resulting in a final tally of 402 such thefts, up from 260 in 2011.
While reluctant to describe specific strategies, Bier said he is looking to enhance plainclothes patrol of PSA-1 to combat these property crimes, the majority of which occurred during daylight hours in 2012.
Concluding his analysis of local crime trends, Bier observed that 2012 averaged 113 part one offenses per month, up from 98 in 2011.
Asked by a resident whether any police attention would be turned to quality of life concerns in 2013, Bier affirmed that this was a core police function, replying, “That’s a given.”