--- Issued December 9, 2014

Erie police are sworn to protect and  to serve, and this holiday season they did both for young residents of Erie's public housing.

More than 80 youths attended the YMCA Kids Club Annual Thanksgiving dinner, where officers Chris Szoszorek and Michael Gould served them and tried to make sure everyone got enough to eat, as is shown in the photo below of Szoszorek scooping up all the fixings of Thanksgiving dinner for the young ones.

Authority Director John E. Horan is proud of the rapport public housing residents have with police. "Public housing has just about the lowest rate of crime and violence in the city," he said.

Szoszorek and Gould are members of an elite group of Erie police officers known as the Quebec Unit, offers assigned to patrol Authorty property who use methods prevalent many years ago when cops walked a beat and got to know neighborhood residents in a personal way – pretty much as friends.

"Working with the housing authority, it's just really made a big dent in the crime rate out here," said Corporal Jody Rager. "I think the housing authority areas are some of the safest in the city actually."

Horan points to statistic to support this:  Over the past 10 years, the unit has reduced crime by nearly 60 percent in low income areas.

"We work very hard to make it a nice place to live, where residents can sit out in the front yard and watch their kids play," said Szoszorek.

The 2013 Safety and Residents Survey prepared by KeyStone Research Corporation of Erie shows that Erie's public housing residents indeed feel safe with their children in their front yards.

Among the survey findings:

•    Almost 90 percent of residents surveyed for the authority's 2013 annual Safety and Satisfaction Survey reported that they feel safe while home alone at night all of the time or most of the time.

•    About 75 percent reported that they feel safe alone at night in a development parking area always or most of the time.

•    Nearly 75 percent of respondents living in family developments said they feel safe about their children playing in the neighborhood during the day always or most of the time.

•    About 88.5 percent of respondents living in family developments said they always or most of the time feel safe while walking alone in the neighborhood during the day.

"There is no doubt that perception of safety in public housing is very high," Horan said, "And that is do in large part to our cooperation with the Erie Police Department and to the Quebec Unit. This is what good policing is all about."

For more information, call Horan at 452-2425.