At Erie Mayor Joe Schember’s weekly news conference today, Mayor Schember and officials with the Erie Police department released a comparison of 2022 crime statistics to past years and a comparison of the first quarter of 2023 statistics to past years. They also detailed several initiatives that are producing positive results in reducing crime as well as initiatives that are being onboarded. Here are the key takeaways:
Violent crime was mostly down in 2022, compared to 2020 and 2021:
To identify crime trends, the Erie Police Department measures and compares yearly statistics over a three-year window. When they focused on violent crimes, they saw that 2021 numbers were up compared to 2020. But in 2022, most violent crimes saw slight to moderate drops. That’s a good sign that the City’s anti-violence work is gaining traction.
• 126 in 2020
• 146 in 2021
• 138 in 2022
• 419 in 2020
• 446 in 2021
• 410 in 2022
Homicide (following the same trend):
• 10 in 2020
• 9 in 2021
• 6 in 2022
• 114 in 2020
• 83 in 2021
• 99 in 2022
The EPD Narcotics/Vice Unit created a Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Site-based Program (COSSUP) which identifies “at risk” individuals and low-level offenders for diversion and referral programs. The goal is to help people get into support programs, get connected with resources, and avoid the possibility of negative outcomes such as incarceration or escalation of involvement in illicit substance abuse.
The EPD also created a Survivor Follow-Up Team, with officers focused on those who survived an opioid or illicit drug overdose. These interactions can accomplish several goals:
• Building trust with law enforcement
• Conveying the serious nature of illicit drugs
• Reinforcing to those with addiction issues that support systems are available
This program was made possible by a $500,000 federal grant, which is being used to combat the troubling trend of increased overdoses and overdose deaths that we are experiencing in Erie.
Since the program’s inception in the fall of 2022, the Survivor Follow-Up Team has tried to help 306 overdose victims. They have offered services and distributed Narcan to 96 of those victims. Many have accepted services and have been placed in rehab and other support programs. In one instance, our Vice Detectives drove an Opioid User to a rehabilitation program upon their request.
Here are some recent opioid numbers:
• 35 deaths
• 194 doses of Naloxone administered by law enforcement
• 246 total opioid overdoses
• 54 deaths
• 226 doses of Naloxone administered by law enforcement
• 286 total opioid overdoses
• 7 deaths
• 49 doses of Naloxone administered by law enforcement as of April 10
• 64 total opioid overdoses
For the first quarter of 2023, the City is on par with last year’s first-quarter numbers, with one less death so far this year.
In May, after a long hiatus, the Erie Police Department will restart the Crisis Car. Selected officers will undergo specialized training regarding mental health crises, substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicidal individuals. Combined training with the numerous local service providers will ensure these officers can handle difficult situations when people need our help the most.
Juvenile violence, unfortunately, is on the rise in 2023. The first quarter 2023 statistics are:
• 42 reported missing/runaway juveniles
• 37 of the 42 juveniles have been located and returned home or referred to juvenile services
• 41 juveniles have been charged on juvenile allegations for criminal conduct which will be handled through the juvenile court system.
A breakdown of the crimes:
• 12 assaults
• 9 others
• 7 burglaries
• 5 drug possession
• 5 weapons
• 3 thefts
But the good news is that the EPD will soon have the ability to directly refer juveniles to diversion programs without filing criminal allegations. That program, called the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI) is being designed by the Erie County District Attorney’s office and will hopefully be up and running before the end of this year. LETI provides an alternative to the EPD when dealing with offenders who commit low-level, non-violent crimes and have a substance abuse problem. Under this initiative, the EPD would have the option of requiring the offender to seek treatment in lieu of punishment.
ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection
Work will begin shortly to add ShotSpotter technology to assist in our Gun Violence Taskforce work and our Gun Violence Reduction Strategy program. This technology will enable us to detect the location of gunfire so we can increase response times.
East Bayfront Neighborhood Crime Reduction Strategy
This week, the Erie Police Department will begin outreach in the designated East Bayfront Neighborhood Byrne Grant area of East Sixth Street to East 26th Street, Holland to Wayne streets. 10% of the city population lives in this footprint, but they experience 30% of the city’s crime. This grant funding will enable the EPD to post extra patrols in that footprint – almost daily – so the police can work to ensure a safe, welcoming, and vibrant neighborhood.
Drug Take-Back Event:
The EPD is partnering with the Crisis Center at UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Safe Harbor to host a local version the national prescription drug take-back event at City Hall. Anyone can drop off prescription drugs that need to be properly disposed of. No sharp needles or IV solutions can be accepted. In addition, visitors will be able to pick up free naloxone kits and drug disposal kits.
Date: April 22, 2023
Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Place: Erie City Hall, 626 State St (residents should enter the City Hall lobby doors on State St. Between 7th Street and South Park Row