Residents of Pa. city asked to take survey to assist crime reduction plan

A "neighborhood concerns index survey" has been created to identify the area's needs and receive feedback from residents


Kevin Flowers
Erie Times-News

East Erie residents are being asked to share their thoughts and concerns about safety and violence in their neighborhoods in relation to a $958,434 federal grant aimed at fighting crime on the city’s east side.

A "neighborhood concerns index survey" has been created to identify the area's needs and receive feedback from residents, Mayor Joe Schember announced during a Thursday morning news conference.

One of the goals of a federally-funded project aimed at fighting crime on the city's east side is to improve relationships between citizens and Erie Bureau of Police officers.
One of the goals of a federally-funded project aimed at fighting crime on the city's east side is to improve relationships between citizens and Erie Bureau of Police officers. (Jack Hanrahan)

"COVID-19 limited our ability to engage with residents in face-to-face interactions," Schember said. "So the survey is the best opportunity to receive input from the community."

The survey can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/r/ErieEastside.

Lori Pickens, the crime grant's coordinator, said the feedback is "valuable and needed" to help officials forge an effective crime-reduction plan for the area "that really captures what the community identifies as drivers of the crime it is experiencing. We need your help.

"Survey results will help focus services (and) collaborations on addressing these needs in the neighborhood," Pickens said.

Those who cannot access the survey electronically can contact Pickens at lpickens@erie.pa.us. or at the the Booker T. Washington Center, 1720 Holland St., to get a paper copy of the survey.

The center's main number is 453-5744.

Schember announced the grant in November 2019. The target area includes high-crime neighborhoods that have been a focus for city police in recent years, located between Holland and Wayne streets from East Sixth Street south to East 26th Street.

Nearly 9,000 people live in the area.

Pickens is working with a steering committee made up of law enforcement, local officials and residents to help develop the city’s plan.

The project's goals, according to city officials, include decreasing violence and gun-related offenses; improving relationships between citizens and law enforcement; increasing resident involvement with neighborhood groups; and decreasing citizens’ fear of crime through awareness and training.

The plan also seeks to build stronger relationships with eastside residents through existing neighborhood organizations; expand strategies targeting chronic violent offenders, such as using a fugitive apprehension team in the target area; utilize a mobile police precinct; and increase police foot, bicycle and saturation patrols when needed.

Strategies that have proved effective in other cities, including Boston, Philadelphia and Minneapolis, will be part of the crime-reduction strategy in Erie, city officials have said.

The Mercyhurst University Civic Institute is working closely with city officials on the grant by conducting research for the eastside crime initiative about why certain types of crimes are most prevalent in the target area, where they most frequently occur and the root causes.

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