HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- According to statistics from the FBI, crime is down some 40% over the past two years in Hazleton.
No doubt that many of us have heard the phrase "perception is reality." That seems to be the case in Hazleton.
Rarely does a day go by that Eyewitness News does not report a crime in the city, but the police chief points out it's a crime that was solved or stopped while it was being committed.
On Wednesday, police responded to a shooting and stabbing in center city. Two teenagers were quickly arrested in connection with the crime, but despite this:
"I feel like the community is feeling a little bit safe," said Bob Yevak, who runs a car detailing business in Hazleton. "There's a presence of cops everywhere no matter where I walk, five, six miles a day, there are cops that pass me."
And that presence is making a difference.
"By us being out there the walking patrols and saturation patrols, going to the hot spots," said Chief Jerry Speziale of the Hazleton Police Department. "It's about going to that location where crime is most likely to happen and preventing that crime from happening."
And according the to latest FBI stats, it seems to be working. Between 2015 and 2017, crime rate in Hazleton dropped by 40%. Violent crimes like murder, robbery, and assault dropped by 50%.
The mayor says the public is also making a difference.
"A lot of our success comes from the people of the city," said Mayor Jeff Cusat. "We've been getting a lot of phone calls, a lot of tips. People actually see things that bother them and call."
Speziale admits the drop in crime rate really means nothing if people do not feel safe in their neighborhoods. He insists his officers are working hard everyday to make that a reality.
Other cities in our area that also saw a drop in crime include Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.