City officials point to drop in violent crime

The mayor and city police chief have cited a downward trend in homicides, robberies and other violent crimes over the past two years, but stop short of saying they need to continue to deal with drug trade and remain vigilant against teenagers acting out, specifically in Newberry.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and Chief of Police David J. Young recently released a joint statement citing a drop in murder, rape and robbery between 2016 and last year.

The statement was based on Uniformed Crime Report statistics gathered between 2016 and 2017 by the FBI.

Illegal drugs remain a top priority for the department, according to Young.

“The goals and objectives this year continue to be increased enforcement in drug trafficking, specifically heroin,” Young said.

Statistics show a dip in drug offenses from 2016 to 2017.

In 2016, the department investigated 345 drug violations, solving 254 of those incidents, with a clearance rate of 73 percent.

Drug offenses were lower last year, however, with 277 violations, and 209 cases solved, according to the data.

By comparison, law enforcement agencies throughout Lycoming County investigated 848 drug offenses last year, solving 596, and those don’t include liquor law violiations, according to the report.

There were fewer homicides last year compared to the year before, according to Campana and Young.

In 2017, two homicides were investigated, compared with six in 2016.

Both of last year’s homicides were solved, while only four of the six the year before were cleared, according to the report.

Fewer sexual assaults were fewer reported to police over the two-year period.

In 2017, police responded to 30 sex-related crimes and 46 in 2016, according to the data.

Records indicate 57 percent of those crimes were solved last year.

Other types of violent crime — assault and robbery — was down by nearly a third. There were 213 assaults in 2016 and 195 reported last year.

Property offenses remained relatively steady. In 2016, city police investigated 1,174 offenses regarding property and 1,192 property offenses last year, the data indicates.

State police records indicate one property crime occurs every two minutes.

Other crimes that are tracked by the city include by are not limited to burglary, which were up, as was arson.

Campana and Young said adding flexible hours in the police department put more officers on the streets and neighborhood crime watch groups provided extra eyes and ears for police.

“The data from last year is indicative of some of the work our officers do on a daily basis,” Campana said.

“The department, although overall young in age, has shown the ability to be proactive in their enforcement efforts,” Young said.

Administrative tactics employed since Young took office three years ago are working, Campana said.

Despite the constant challenge of heroin and drug dealing, the mayor and chief said they are pleased with the downward trend of violence.

“We are a safe city for residents, visitors and businesses,” Campana said.