The Harrisburg Bureau of Police is restructuring and increasing its Uniformed Patrol Division.
"We're looking out for our citizens' safety and for our officers'
safety," Harrisburg Police Chief Tom Carter said during a Wednesday news conference with Mayor Linda
Police officials said 17 officers, two supervisors and three K9s with handlers will be added to the division.
Division commander Captain Annette Oates said the change was needed.
"I think it'll be a huge win-win situation for the community and department as a whole," she said.
Carter said he and Oates were tasked with handling a recent spike in police calls and managing the department's complement of 129; down from 172 about four years ago.
Of the 17 officers joining Uniformed Patrol, four are graduates of January's class of new officers. Thompson said two officers from that class failed tests along the way, and another officer from the seven-man class was recruited elsewhere.
Carter said the remaining 13 officers will be pulled from specialty units such as the Street Crimes Division.
"We no longer have specialty units because of our needs," he said.
Many residents welcomed the news. Several said they have been asking for additional officers on the streets for a long time.
Residents of the Bellevue Park neighborhood met Tuesday night with school officials about recent fights outside Harrisburg High School. Residents at the meeting called for added patrols to deter fights and crime.
"We're not going to specifically put and stack cops at a particular area just because of one incident," Thompson said. "Our cops are going to be placed all around the city."
Thompson said no neighborhood is more important than any other.
Angela Dalton said that since the fights, her son has been afraid to walk to Marshall School. She now picks him up on a daily basis.
"Bullets don't have a name," Dalton said. "Unfortunately, the high school kids don't take that into consideration."
Dalton said she would like to see more officers patrol the high school and nearby Marshall when classes let out in order to protect the younger children.
Police said that with the added patrols, response time would improve. Thompson said the new patrolling detail will begin on Monday, September 23.