Archive for category allentown police department

Lehigh Street in Allentown reopens following sinkhole repair

Posted by Real-Time News.

Lehigh Street at Downeyflake Lane had been closed since Tuesday afternoon.

The Allentown street closed because of a sinkhole reopened Wednesday afternoon, city police said.

It was a few minutes before the estimated 3:30 p.m. reopening when police Capt. Bill Reinik said traffic was again flowing on Lehigh Street. The street had been closed since Tuesday afternoon.

Crews had the sinkhole along Lehigh Street at Downeyflake Lane filled by Wednesday morning, but needed to cover the repairs with asphalt and let it cure.

The sinkhole was caused by a break in a 12-inch-diameter water main, according to the Lehigh County Authority. Reinik said crews had to dig up the road to be sure the sinkhole did not run underneath; it didn’t, but that left two areas to patch.

In addition to the traffic problems, the detour led to a scary situation for Reinik and crews directing traffic Tuesday evening. A Northampton County man is accused of driving around the barricades and nearly hitting fire police officers, then speeding up at Reinik before fleeing.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahCassi. Find Allentown news on our Facebook page.

Allentown counts fewer murders, more rapes in 2014 crime report

Posted by Real-Time News.

Police are 'attacking crime in our neighborhoods … we are a safer city as a result of it,' the mayor says.

joel fitzgerald, ed pawlowski Allentown police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, at the podium, discusses the city’s 2014 crime report on June 15, 2015. To the left of Fitzgerald is Mayor Ed Pawlowski, and on the right are Capt. Gail Struss, Assistant Chief Bill Lake and Assistant Chief Keith Morris. (Sarah Cassi | For lehighvalleylive.com)

For Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, 2014 was a good year when it came to crime statistics.

The pair on Monday released the 2014 crime report for the city showing that part 1 crimes — which includes murder, rape, robbery and assault — were down by more than 10 percent compared to 2013.

Police are “attacking crime in our neighborhoods… we are a safer city as a result of it,” Pawlowski said.

You can read the full report here and see the presentation from Monday’s news conference here.

The city ended 2014 with 10 murders, as opposed to 13 in 2013, equaling a 23 percent drop, according to the report. The number of homicides in the city has hit double digits almost every year since 2003, with the exception being 2010 when the city had 9 murders, according to the report.

Robberies involving firearms were down 14 percent, and assaults with dangerous weapons (not including guns or knives) were down 42 percent year-over-year.

For the first time since 2000, the number of burglaries in the city dropped below 1,000. There were 940 burglaries in Allentown in 2014, down 25 percent from 2013.

There were also increases in certain crimes.

Rape increased almost 7 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year, and 2014 marked the second highest number of rapes in the city since 2000. The most rapes in the city over the past 14 years occurred in 2009, when the city had 67, according to the report.

Robberies involving knives or cutting instruments were up 52 percent compared to 2013, and assault with firearms increased 38 percent, according to the city report.

The biggest percentage increases included thefts from coin operate devices, which rose 150 percent from two to five incidents; thefts of trucks and buses, which increased almost 112 percent from nine to 19 incidents; and vagrancy, which went from 13 incidents in 2013 to 25 incidents in 2014, increasing 92 percent, the report says.

“The crime numbers are only part of our community story,” Fitzgerald said.

The chief said the department is taking a “holistic” approach to fighting crime, such as involving the city’s Bureau of Buildings Standards and Safety, or the health department when officers respond to homes.

“You’re seeing that problem-solving effect take hold,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald thanked his team, and said the department’s 200-plus officers deserve the “lion’s share” of the appreciation.

“This is a culmination of many, many years of effort,” Fitzgerald said.

With talk of numbers, officials were asked about officer overtime.

The department was over-budget on overtime last year, spending just over $2 million when it was budgeted $1.4 million, officials previously said. The department’s overtime budget in 2015 is $1.8 million.

Pawlowski seemed to bristle at questions about the police department’s overtime, noting the department is under budget overall.

“We’re certainly are,” Fitzgerald added.

The mayor said the department’s overtime was “appropriate,” adding “they’re obviously attacking crime where they need to.”

Fitzgerald said officers’ overtime was the cost of doing their jobs, such as going to court following arrests.

“Overtime plays a role in police activities – period,” Fitzgerald said. “If we get more arrests, we’ll see more court overtime.”

But Councilman Julio Guridy said earlier this year he believed overtime was due to the new PPL Arena and a shortage of officers. The city was at 207 officers by the end of 2013, hired four more earlier this year and is approved for 222 officers.

BY THE NUMBERS

Police department: 221 sworn officers

Budget: $33 million

Calls to 911 center (911 and non-emergency): 223,344

Dispatched calls (includes police, fire EMS, animal control and parking): 156,934

911 text messages received: 67

Man assaults estranged girlfriend in child’s bedroom, police say

Posted by Real-Time News.

The 19-year-old is free on bail in a previous case in which he is accused of driving drunk and possessing a stolen firearm.

allentown police carAllentown police say a city man free on bail assaulted his estranged girlfriend in the couple’s daughter’s bedroom. (Sarah Cassi | lehighvalleylive.com file photo)

An Allentown man free on bail for alleged drunken driving and possession of a stolen gun is accused of assaulting his estranged girlfriend in their child’s bedroom.

Jose Luis Figueroa, 19, of the 100 block of South 13th Street, is charged with simple assault, child endangerment, harassment and criminal mischief.

Figueroa’s bail was set at $10,000 in the most recent case, but bail was revoked in the previous case.

Allentown police were called for a reported assault at about 1:50 a.m. Monday in the 1200 block of East Marks Street, according to court records.

The victim, who had injuries to her lips and mouth, said she was sleeping in their daughter’s bedroom that night because the couple is separated.

The woman told police Figueroa tried to reconcile with her and, when she refused, an argument began, records say.

Figueroa grabbed the woman’s phone and smashed it against a wall above the bed where their 1-year-old daughter was sleeping, police said.

Figueroa then grabbed the woman and slammed her head against the bed, causing her injuries, police said. Figueroa told the woman if he sees her with another guy, “Things are going to happen,” records say.

Police said when officers tried to stop Figueroa in the early morning of May 31 in the 700 block of Hanover Street, he drove over the curb and then hit a parked car. Figueroa stumbled out of the car and smelled of alcohol, police said.

Officers found a Glock 26 9mm handgun under the front passenger seat, and records showed the gun was reported stolen from Florida, police said. Figueroa did not have a license to carry a concealed firearm, police said.

In that case, Figueroa was charged with firearms carried without a license, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, driving under the influence and three summary traffic violations.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahCassi. Find Allentown news on our Facebook page.