Washington police officers will immediately begin additional walking patrols in the Washington County Housing Authority’s five residential locations in the city in an effort to reduce crime and drug activity there.
City Council Thursday night unanimously approved a yearlong contract with the housing agency that will allow for periodic four-hour walking patrols in Jollick Manor, Lincoln Terrace, Crumrine Tower, Maple Terrace and Bassettown Manor.
“If we have security needs that need to be addressed, they can respond,” WCHA Executive Director Stephen Hall said. “It’s very important to have an extra police presence in all of our public housing neighborhoods. I’m sure it’ll be welcomed by all of our residents.”
The Housing Authority will pay the city $20,000 to begin patrols this week and continue until September. Hall said they have been in serious discussions with the city for several months.
Washington police Chief Chris Luppino said officers have always patrolled those residences just as they would other parts of the city, but they have not been contracted with the agency for increased services since the late 1990s.
The additional patrols will be staggered and happen more often during warmer months. The officers also will be walking through the towers, which they typically did not do before now.
“I think it’ll be a good relationship,” Luppino said.
The housing authority had been using Pennsylvania constables for extra security to fill the void left by the city’s previously expanded role.
Washington Mayor Brenda Davis said the new contract will allow residents living in those five residences to have “one-on-one contact with the officers” rather than watching them drive by in a police cruiser. She did not rule out that the partnership could expand in the future.
“We wouldn’t be able to spend that much time in a normal day. We wouldn’t be able to pull an officer out to say, this is strictly your duty,” Davis said. “We have to provide protection all the way down, so this is an extra step.”
The housing authority’s board approved the contact in late October, and Washington City Council voted 4-0 Thursday night to ratify the agreement. Outgoing Councilman Matt Staniszewski did not attend the meeting.