I-Team: Are Saturation Patrols Making a Difference?

HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A high numbers of police are on the streets looking for crime. It's called a saturation patrol and people in one of our area's biggest city's say the tactic is working. Lead I-Team investigator Andy Mehalshick talked to officers on the front lines.

 Hazleton city police officers walked on Alter Street Tuesday. It’s part of an ongoing effort to keep the peace in a neighborhood known for trouble.

 “They are cleaning up the streets. They are taking all the criminals out of our business which is good." Said Joann Breznak, of Ron’s Notary.

And that's what we heard from business owners and residents in this Alter Street neighborhood.

 "You know saturation patrols have increased the Omni-presence of police officers in the hot spot areas." Said Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale.

Police carried out a saturation patrol here over the weekend. Arresting two men, confiscating drugs, cash and a weapon.

"While we are there you see characteristics of individuals that are acting suspicious. Things that look like a drug deal going down. All of a sudden people start doing things that make them extremely suspicious enough for probable cause to go into that inquiry." Said Chief Speziale.

At least two dozen saturation patrols have been carried out in the Mountain City since April. Dozens of people have been arrested on a wide variety of charges.

"When you stop a vehicle you never know if the individual is wanted. He knows he's wanted. but you dolt know what action he will take. You don't know how dangerous is it going to be." Said Sgt. Mark Zola, Hazleton Police

"It’s definitely working” said Chief Speziale.

Craig and Vilmarie Budde agree. They work with the Hazleton crime watch. They say they have seen a drop in crime in their neighborhood on Arthur Street.

 "It is picking up anybody who is wanted, picking up felons. they are looking for drugs that may be visible." Said Vilmarie.

  "The criminals see more and more police and they start getting cautious they start getting nervous about getting caught and going to jail."  Added Craig

Chief Speziale is still gathering data on the saturation patrols and hopes to put out a report in the next month.   Saturation patrols are used in communities throughout our region. For the most part they are successful. Often times it takes months for them to actually make an impact on criminal activity.


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