The transformation of Lowell, Ma. offers a glimpse into what Allentown, Pa., could become once community policing takes hold, says the Allentown Morning Call. Lowell, which is similar in population, size and age to Allentown, had become a gang and drug haven in the 1990s but now is rejuvenated with a thriving downtown. Officials say the changes began when Lowell moved from the traditional way of fighting crime — going from call to call — to community policing, which has more officers walking beats, allowing them to interact with the people they protect and spot crime patterns before they become more serious.
Within two years, violent crime dropped by about 33 percent and hasn’t risen since. With guidance from the same community policing expert who worked on Lowell’s plan, George Kelling of “Broken Windows” fame, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski this week will unveil his plan to take back the city from a wave of violent crime that has plagued some neighborhoods. About half the police force, 106 officers. will be available for neighborhood policing. Allentown saw an 18 percent decrease in violent crime in 2007, and that pattern has continued this year. However, in two of the past three years, the city has had a record 21 homicides, and with 12 so far this year, could break that record.