In 2016, the men and women of the Whitehall Police Department developed a three-year strategic plan to reduce theft-related crimes -- robberies, burglaries and, eventually, violent crime -- by 20%.
This was a lofty goal, but these officers and agency employees exceeded even their own expectations. Robberies have been reduced by 38%, burglaries by 46% and violent crime by 27%.
It might seem that an aggressive law-enforcement strategy was overly successful on its own when you look at these numbers; however, the truth is our strategy included more than law-enforcement personnel.
Police department employees worked diligently to build a culture of crime prevention by partnering with all levels of government and the community. The success of the past three years was due to the unbelievable dedication of police employees collaborating with a supportive community.
The city's leadership emphasizes a vision of cooperation and collaboration among the city departments. We believe teamwork is the only way to create opportunities for those we serve; therefore, the economic-development plan must be in harmony with the public-safety plan, which also must be in accord with the community-engagement plan.
Working together, the city departments reversed the negative perception of the city. This created opportunities for businesses to flourish and the community to feel safe. The crime-reduction plan of the future is law enforcement working with all parts of city government and the community to reduce crime.
This is our Safer Whitehall initiative.
We know the community and our business partners are the keys to improving safety. A community must work collaboratively to change a negative perception to one of strong social capital, in which the people are united in a sense of purpose and opportunity. This unity has improved the social and economic situation of the city, and Whitehall quickly has become the opportunity you do not want to miss.
In December, the three-year strategic plan will come to a successful end. The next three-year plan will build on those internal and external relationships to help set a standard of excellence for the city of Whitehall. Even though we have seen some encouraging trends in crime reduction, I am asking the community to join with me over the next three years to solidify our posture as a safe city by accepting the Safer Whitehall initiative challenge.
The challenge is to ask yourself, "What will I do today to make Whitehall safer?" You can get to know your neighbors, drive safely, create a community-watch program or simply remove theft opportunities from your environment.
If we are going to maintain this crime-reduction trend, we need to work together to make Whitehall safer. Please stay safe, drive safely and get to know your neighbors.
Mike Crispen is chief of the Whitehall Police Department.