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Harrisburg mayor announces increased police patrols

Updated: Wednesday, September 11 2013, 06:32 PM CDT
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

HARRISBURG -- The Harrisburg Police Department has come up with a plan to put more cops on the streets despite its tight fiscal constraints.

At a press conference today, Mayor Linda Thompson and police department leaders announced that 17 officers and 2 supervisors are going to be moved out of specialty units and into street patrols.

“The officers will be performing platoon patrol duties not specialized functions,” Captain Annette Oates said. “This will improve response times for service and improve officer safety along with improving the overtime situation.”

Tuesday night City Council discussed the continuing overtime problem that is impacting the city’s budget.

“The core function of any department is the patrol unit,” Chief Thomas Carter added. “We had to put more on to handle the number of calls we have been receiving.”

The officers will be taken out of specialty units, including housing, street crimes an services.

Thompson says this reorganization has been in the works for a long time, but unrealized fears that many officers would leave because of compromises they would have to make due to the city's debt delayed its implementation.

“We delayed because there was a rumor that under Act 43 officers, it may cause massive exodus of officers,” Thompson explained.

Even though that didn't happen, the city has nearly 40 fewer officers than it did in the 1990s and it felt getting back to the fundamentals of the crime fighting was the way to go. Carter says in the 1990s there were about 172 officers.

Currently, the department has 129.

“We found way to answer the needs of our citizens,” he said.

This change won't mean more patrols near Harrisburg High School where a video was taken last week, showing a mob of teens running towards a fight and then reversing their tracks when two loud booms are heard on the recording.

“I heard this boom, I said I’m going back in the house, because it sounds like gunshots, exactly like gunshots,” said local resident Dot Mentzer.

Carter says that they are continuing to investigate the incident but said again to CBS 21 that what was heard on the recording was not gunshots.

Thompson says the extra patrols will be used throughout the city as need, but no extra emphasis will be made in the Harrisburg High area.

Harrisburg mayor announces increased police patrols

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