A new, cooperative community policing partnership between Lehigh University and the Bethlehem Police Department will place officers from the campus police department in the neighborhoods surrounding the university in an effort to promote safety and quality of life for both students and local residents. The program is effective immediately.
The community policing model—which employs partnerships to address issues that give rise to crime and other public safety issues such as noise, litter, parking, etc.—has been employed with great success in cities across the country, including New York City, Detroit, Denver, Reno and others, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The areas of patrol for this new venture will include a 15-block area that is bounded by Buchanan Street to the east, Carlton Avenue to the west, Fourth Street and Broadway to the north, and Lehigh's campus to the south. These neighborhoods will have officers from the university assigned to them to better build trusting relationships with students and full-time residents.
Both Lehigh and Bethlehem Police Department officials see the creation of this program as significant progress.
“We have often said that there is no higher priority for the university than the health and safety of the Lehigh community,” says John Smeaton, vice provost for Student Affairs. “The community policing partnership is part of a broad, comprehensive approach to address both this and other quality of life issues that exist in the neighborhoods.”
Adds Lehigh University Police Department Chief Ed Shupp: “This approach provides the opportunity to work cooperatively with the Bethlehem Police Department to develop the sort of trusting relationships among officers, residents and students that are essential to the success of community policing programs.”
Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan says that the city has been extremely committed to community policing, describing it as a progressive concept in law enforcement and crime prevention that works for the entire community.
“We are thrilled to work with Chief Shupp and the entire Lehigh University Police Department to keep our residents and students safe in our bordering neighborhoods,” Callahan says. “The cooperative effort is another example of cities and universities partnering to provide the best public safety measures for its citizens.”
Bethlehem’s recently installed police commissioner, Stuart Bedics, hails the new partnership as “great progress toward a common goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens.”
“The Bethlehem Police Department is committed to working in partnership with the community to ensure that the residents of the city—both full- time residents and university students—enjoy a high quality of life and feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods,” Bedics says. “We’re looking forward to working cooperatively with Chief Shupp and the members of the Lehigh University Police Department to reduce crime and build stronger neighborhoods in Bethlehem.”
Says Jean Friedman, a Bethlehem resident and member of the Board of Directors of the Congregations United for Neighborhood Action (CUNA) group: “I am confident that the members of our Local Organizing Committee at Holy Infancy Church will be delighted to learn more about this new program.”
Friedman, who says the program “is like the answer to our prayers,” adds that her group is committed to developing and sustaining positive relationships within South Side neighborhoods.
“This is the type of community-based program that allows us to communicate openly and directly about the issues that concern all of us,” she says. “This joint partnership between Lehigh University’s Police department and the Bethlehem Police Department is exceptional progress toward that common goal.”
This cooperative venture joins a number of other safety initiatives either recently implemented by the university, or underway. They include:
- continuation of expanded evening police patrols on the lower campus and re-assignment of an LUPD supervisor in the Campus Square sub-station to better oversee the new community policing program.
- installation of increased lighting along Dravo Drive, an area of heavy pedestrian traffic for students.
- addition of seven surveillance cameras in strategic locations on and around the Lehigh campus.
- installation of a secure card-access system and security screens on first-floor doors and windows of Lehigh’s fraternity houses.