The Community Outreach Unit (COU) consists of school resource officers (SROs), youth detectives, a community liaison officer, a PAL (police athletic league) officer, and a crime prevention officer. The mission of the community outreach unit is to build partnerships and use problem-solving strategies to proactively address conditions that lead to public safety concerns such as crime, social disorder, the fear of crime, and the perception of law enforcement. Components of the mission include:
Cedar Crest College—Center for Police Innovation and Community Engagement
Cedar Crest College has partnered with our mission in developing a goal-oriented holistic approach to achieve tangible and measurable objectives. Short term goals already achieved include a study of police response and training as it relates to mental health and a burglary initiative to prevent repeat victimization. Long term goals include evaluation of the PSA patrol model, identification of community policing initiatives, and consumer satisfaction analysis.
Community Intervention Specialists
The COU works in tandem with the growing compliment of Community Intervention Specialists to assess individuals with mental illness to refer individuals to appropriate services in an expedient manner, reduce recidivism, and promote the Recovery Model.
Opioid Crisis Initiative
The COU visits patients to offer resources such as counseling, rehabilitation, and companionship after life-saving efforts prevented their death following an opioid emergency.
Community Outreach Projects
The COU provides outreach for mediation and investigation regarding chronic nuisance or quality of life issues, information sharing via social media, and coordination/communication with neighborhood groups throughout the city. COU officers also participate as liaisons in a variety of organizations such as an LGBTQ, the Allentown Homeless Commission, and the Puerto Rican Culture Preservation.
Juvenile Crime and Diversion
SROs and youth detectives in the COU investigate and refer matters of juvenile crime for adjudication when necessary. The COU emphasizes diversion from adjudication and proactively address the needs of Allentown’s youth with a variety of partnerships and programs for special needs such as:
The COU engages in child fingerprinting, reading events, bicycle safety events and school presentations on a variety of topics.
This youth program initiative challenges today’s middle school students to “Live with Integrity for Future Excellence." The L.I.F.E program was developed with the goal of forming a strong and lasting link of relationships between middle school youth, their families, and the police. Officers serve as mentors to build confidence, decision making, and accountability. Students sign a contract and work toward the achievement of predetermined behavioral objectives for both present and future impact.
For more information about the L.I.F.E. Program, contact Officer James Stanko at 610.437.7549 or via email.
Youth Police Academy
In 2014, APD developed the Allentown Youth Police Academy that is available to middle school students each year during the summer months. Thanks to partnerships with the Allentown School District and the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI), students will have the opportunity to participate in a week-long basic Youth Police Academy. As a follow up, students may be invited for an additional week of training in the Advanced Youth Police Academy. Both programs provide a snapshot of police work with a particular focus on mentorship, structure, and decision making to educate students in the many facets of the law enforcement profession.
The Community Outreach Unit thrives from a constant and continuing partnership with the youth and families of Allentown. There is no one size fits all solution to the many challenges in today's society. As a result, Community Outreach Unit staff repeatedly respond to the calls of the community to speak and mentor in order to help our youth grow into the best they can be. From individual appointments to formal group settings, the list is always growing as officers take pride in the service of the City. Here is a sample of other activities:
Sgt. Bill Williams
Sgt. John Leonard III
City of Allentown - 435 Hamilton Street - 610-439-5999