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Officials: Most crime down during pandemic

Assaults and arsons increased during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Williamsport, city police said.

Other crimes such as homicide, robberies and theft from vehicles show a downward trend, said police Chief Damon Hagan to City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday.

“Most of the numbers are down,” Hagan said.

Assaults and arsons increased during height of the virus restriction on movement in March and through early summer months.

For 2020, there were 84 assaults, but other categories are down, except sex assaults, which accounted for 18 investigations last year and 21 this year-to-date, the report said.

Arson investigations were up from one last year to three arsons under investigation as of the half-year point, Hagan said.

Hagan gave credit to the reduction of most crime to a younger patrol officer corps doing community police work and engaging with youth on the streets.

“You see how interaction with officers and youth can command some respect,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, committee chairwoman.

The report is a mid-year analysis compared to 2019 and 2018, she said.

In terms of fire department statistics, Mark Killian, fire chief, said his goal is to provide the committee with a more comprehensive quarterly report consisting of data, training hours, response statistics and turn out time.

He noted that fire alarm calls decreased due to fewer stores being open and less calls needed to respond to alarms.

Firefighters next month will do a “Williamsport Safe Program,” going door-to-door to check on residential smoke alarm capacity and effectiveness as a means of further preventing unwanted fires, he said.

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