An 'aggressive foot patrol operation' is set to begin in Harrisburg. After a homicide capped off a violent city crime wave, police and Mayor Linda Thompson plan to fight back with boots on the ground.
"This is a recipe for murder," said Frank Ramirez. It became an unfortunate prediction for Ramirez. He told his wife he saw two groups of people standing outside the bar around 15th and Market Streets while driving home. Ramirez said he felt tensions rising.
"Sure enough, two hours later..."
As of 6 p.m. Monday evening, police told abc27 a "person of interest" was being sought in the murder of 27 Tyrell Vaughan.
Ramirez's gut instinct became the city's seventh homicide investigation of 2013. Police said Vaughan was found on the street with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso.
Authorities said he later died at the hospital.
Ramirez was visibly frustration living in a neighborhood that continues to battle daily violence.
"Let people alone," he said. "Mugging people on the street. Just trying to walk home or going to the store. That's gotta stop."
Within the past six days, crime has escalated. Police have reported nearly a dozen armed robberies, brutal attacks with baseball bats, and shootings. Most of the recent crime has been concentrated in the midtown and Allison Hill neighborhoods.
Mayor Linda Thompson held a press conference Monday afternoon with Police Chief Pierre Ritter and Police Captain Annette Oates. The city rolled out a plan to put "boots on the ground" by using an "aggressive foot patrol" operation.
"We will not allow a single neighborhood to be held hostage or collapse," said Mayor Thompson.
The mayor said public safety is and continues to be her administration's top priority. Thompson said she asked Chief Ritter and the department to come up with a plan to get officers out from behind the desk and onto the street.
Starting Tuesday night, Chief Ritter said two teams would canvass midtown and Allison Hill during peak crime hours. The chief would not give exact number of foot patrols but said each team consists of at least five officers.
Mayor Thompson acknowledged the city is running on limited resources, but being broke will not impact public safety. The mayor said she is working with Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico on securing more gaming money to pay officers overtime.
When speaking with Ramirez earlier in the day, he offered a few ideas to curb crime.
"I'm calling for a curfew," he said. "I would love to see a curfew to keep these kids off the corners."
On behalf of Ramirez, we asked Chief Ritter about his idea.
"Curfew is also going to be a part of this aggressive foot patrol operation."
Chief Ritter continued to explain the importance of keeping juveniles off the street. He said officers would cite and arrest violators.
From Sunday to Thursday, Chief Ritter said the curfew would be 10 p.m. for those under the age of 18. On Friday and Saturday night he said juveniles must be in by midnight.
Last August, surrounding police departments came to Harrisburg to help city officers patrol the streets. The joint initiative came off the heels of a hot crime wave last summer. At that time, it was the first time in two decades surrounding departments helped Harrisburg in that capacity.
So, when asked if that same idea could work again. Chief Ritter said talks were already underway with those respective chiefs of police to coordinate another joint effort.
Thompson said the extra foot patrols coincides with the current non-publicized Neighborhood Safety Zone program. Both undercover and visible officers will be patrolling the streets according to the mayor.
With a mayor that often speaks off the cuff, Thompson was calculated in her warning to those who threaten public safety.
"I will keep the heat on you until I get rid of you out of this city."