Police target party houses in East Falls, increase bike patrols on Germantown Ave.

For the fourth month in a row, crime continues a downward trend in sections of the 39th Police District.

As of April 16, police report that 43 violent and major property crimes have taken place in Police Service Area One, a segment of the 39th Police District that serves East Falls, Southwest Germantown, and Allegheny West.

Of these, nine burglaries have taken place in April, along with nine thefts from vehicles. For local police, these statistics are significant, as these two property crimes were identified by PSA-1 officials earlier in the year as being the two crimes to receive targeted enforcement tactics in 2013.

In March, police reported 14 burglaries – 12 of which were residential – and 17 thefts from vehicles.

With April more than half over, PSA-1 is averaging 2.6 such crimes per day. Should this trend continue, police are projecting that 79 Part One crimes will be committed this month, representing an ongoing decrease from previous months.

‘We’re heading in the right direction’ 

In March, PSA-1 saw 86 Part One crimes, averaging 2.7 per day. For the first two months of 2013, police report that 2.8 such crimes were committed per day. While January and February witnessed the largest amount of crimes so far this year, these are the lowest levels of offenses seen since January 2012, when only 66 Part One crimes took place.

Crime peaked last year in April of 2012 in PSA-1 when 180 crimes were reported.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” said Lt. Edward Bier, who oversees policing efforts in PSA-1. Prompted by a resident at a recent meeting, Bier observed that sectors in Southwest Germantown continue to be the most resistant to crime reduction efforts.

“That’s where the majority of it occurs, and that’s where we try to put the manpower,” he added, noting that additional bike patrols in the Germantown Avenue area will be seen in coming months.

Germane to East Falls, Bier related that neighborhood party houses are again drawing the attention of police. He recalled that in March he and other officers from the 39th District were dispatched to Calumet Street at 1:30 a.m. in response to loud music complaints.

Upon arrival, Bier estimated that 150 people were present at a party in a private residence, the majority of whom appeared to be college-aged. The house was cleared of its occupants, and the property owner was identified and contacted by police.

Bier indicated that residents who open their houses to disorderly parties could face liquor law charges that range from serving minors to operation of a speakeasy, if applicable.

Seeking community involvement 

In the coming months, Bier said residents can expect to see changes in local police deployment, a result of new tactics and strategies being implemented by the 39th District’s commanding officer, Captain Michael Craighead, who came to his post in Nov. 2012.

Building upon earlier remarks, Bier related that command staff is placing a renewed emphasis upon on-the-spot investigations of vehicles and pedestrians. While he believed that this tactic is aiding in the decreased number of crimes, he said the public must participate.

“The people that live in the area must be involved,” he said. “They’re the eyes and the ears.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.