my information

--- Issued September 24, 2012

The Erie Times-News on Sunday, September 23, featured, at the top of the local page, a story on Erie's C.O.P.P.S. Program and comments by HACE Executive Director John E. Horan. The program is the special patrol the Erie Housing Authority operates with the City of Erie to protect Erie's public housing residents and to reduce crimes.

Erie C.O.P.P.S. officer Tom Borreli, 44, is typical of the Erie Police officers who serve and protect Erie Housing Authority residents as well as the citizens of Erie. Boreli keeps a trunkful of stuffed animals ao that he and his night-time patrol officers can give them to children they meet on domestic calls.

The story, by reporter Erica Erwin, was headlined, "Erie Housing Authority Extends Community Policing."

It read:

The six Erie police officers assigned to Erie Housing Authority developments have helped dramatically reduce crime on authority property, authority chief John Horan said.

The authority's goal is to continue that record of success.

The Erie Housing Authority recently voted to extend its Community Oriented Police and Probation Services, or COPPS, program for two years, through Aug. 31, 2014.

"It's been a model program," Horan said. "It's really something we're pleased to do. It not only helps us, obviously, but it helps the whole community because we get six more officers on the streets."

The total cost of providing the six officers, including salary and benefits, is nearly $1.4 million for the two-year period, Horan said. Under the new contract, the authority will pay $925,000 of that, and the city will pay the remainder. The authority has a separate contract with Erie County for probation services.

The program has led to a "tremendous decrease" in the number of criminal incidents at or in authority-owned developments in recent years, Horan said. The authority operates 14 developments in the city, serving 6,000 residents.

"On an annual basis, we have 400 incidents per year, down from a high of close to 1,000 incidents per year before we started the program," Horan said. "We say we have the safest neighborhoods in the city of Erie. That's our message, and I think the data would bear that out."

Another bonus: familiarity. The same officers have served in the program since its inception, Horan said. Their work goes beyond law enforcement, he said. They work to connect Housing Authority residents with needed services.

"It has allowed the officers to get to know the residents who live in public housing. They know the children, they know the parents, they know who belongs and who doesn't. They know everybody and every thing. ... In the purest form, they are really a community policing unit that is there to solve problems, not just enforce the laws of society."