The Philadelphia Housing Authority announced that reports of crime in public housing projects fell by more than 41 percent last year, thanks primarily to the agency's deployment of a larger police force.
Thefts were down by 68 percent, sexual assaults by 78 percent and robberies were cut in half, the PHA reported Friday.
PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah credited the decrease to his expansion of the agency’s police force after he took the reins at the department in 2013.
“The increase in the department and having a police department that works hand-in-hand with residents to create crime-free areas is definitely paying dividends,” Jeremiah said in a statement.
Serious crime issues have been reported at some public housing projects around Philly. Before the Blumberg-Sharswood towers in North Philly were demolished, Jeremiah himself said his life was threatened by a drug dealer in the towers, leading in part to the decision to raze that project.
In October 2014, senior citizens living at Gladys P. Jacobs Manor at 11th Street and Fairmount Avenue blocked the streets to protest the announcement that they might lose their armed security guards.
Jeremiah “invested heavily in a closed circuit television (CCTV) security system and multilayered door entry access controls,” the agency said in a news release. He also has so far recruited eight PHA residents to become PHA police officers.
PHA Police Chief Branville Bard said high visibility patrols and following residents’ suggestions to concentrate patrols on site at housing developments, instead of broader areas around the projects, was helping. He also gave high marks to the residents who became PHA police.
“They have roots already established in the community, so that allows them to hit the ground running. They know these areas very well,” Bard said of resident officers, “and individual residents feel more comfortable going to them because they know them.”