--- Issued January 4, 2018

Erie Mayor Joseph Schember cited HACE and its Quebec Unit as a model for not only Erie, but the entire country in a Times-News editorial published today:

"Mayor seeks new model for policing Erie"

– Erie Times-News

New Erie Mayor Joe Schember said that a major reason he chose Dan Spizarny as his police chief is that they share a deep commitment to community policing and the Unified Erie anti-violence initiative.

It's encouraging that the mayor and chief are wasting no time in turning that commitment into action. Schember said Thursday that the Erie Bureau of Police will serve as a national pilot program for community policing, in concert with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The program, called Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships, will begin with discussions between police officers and key community groups, including members of Erie's minority community. The goal is to go beyond law enforcement and strengthen ties between police and residents.

Schember said he hopes to have the program underway this spring. In addition to police, it will involve representatives of the black community, refugee groups, nonprofits, the arts, clergy, businesses, education, crime victims and neighborhood groups.

"These initiatives fit into the prevention piece of Unified Erie, which is another program that is very important to me and my command staff," Schember said at his Thursday news conference. "As we move forward we want to strengthen police-community partnerships."

Schember said the pilot program is part of his administration's focus on "getting out, listening to the community and building relationships." That emphasis on engaging residents is long overdue.

The effort is also an extension of the Community Police Relations Group, which reconvened Jan. 26. The group focuses on frank, open communication between police and community groups. That involved considerable tension when the group began its work, but has resulted in changing perspectives on both sides.

Schember on Thursday cited the approach of the bureau's Quebec unit, which has engaged in community policing for 16 years at Erie Housing Authority properties. He said that unit is a "model for the way policing should be done throughout all of Erie."

"These officers realize that it is just as important to read to a 5-year-old as it is to arrest a criminal," Schember said."