"Safer Whitehall" initiative is reducing violent crime

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Police in Whitehall said it stood to reason that if drugs were fueling violent crime, then cutting drug trafficking off at the source was a viable solution.

"People aren't going to work every single day and working 40 hours and then taking their paycheck and buying drugs," said Whitehall Police Chief Mike Crispen.

One year ago, Whitehall police began to aggressively investigate shoplifting, smash and grabs, and thefts from vehicles. Chief Crispen said police took a zero tolerance policy and arrested anyone caught stealing. He said it didn't take long for criminals to figure out that Whitehall was "hot."

"We know they say that to us all the time. Stay away from Whitehall guys. They're going to take you to jail. I'm okay with that. That's exactly the message we want to send," said Chief Crispen.

The new strategy resulted in a dramatic dip in violent crimes, like rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Whitehall averages 180 reports a year, but in 2017, that number fell to 147.

Police said they investigated 83 robberies last year. That number is a 20 year low. Burglaries showed the greatest reduction.

Police said Whitehall averages 341 burglary reports in a typical year. In 2017, police investigated just 199. It's the first time the number has fallen below 200 since 1995.

Now, police are hoping to take the zero-tolerance policy one step further. A new initiative called "Safer Whitehall" is a chance for business owners to receive training from police on how to prevent crime.

Law enforcement will teach business owners safety strategies, including installing highly visible security cameras and engaging every customer who walks through the door.

Police said once they have back up from the business community, they expect great things for the city of Whitehall.

"I say to people who are debating about whether they want to be part of the Whitehall experience or not, is you better get on board this train or you're going to miss it ," said Chief Crispen.