HARRISBURG PA – Overall crime statewide last year was up slightly – less than one-half of 1 percent – and property crimes were up by 2.8 percent, compared to 2007 statistics, but violent crimes fell by 1 percent, according to the 2008 Uniform Crime Report (UCR) released Wednesday (July 22, 2009) by the Pennsylvania State Police.

Bad guys were looking for, and in some cases found, oppotunities last year.

Bad guys were looking for, and in some cases found, opportunities last year.

State Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski said a total of 1,007,674 crimes were reported to troopers during 2008, an increase of 0.4 percent over 1,003,397 crimes reported in 2007. Report data, which can be customized to look at specific crimes or localities, is available online.

Violent crimes, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, dropped from 50,965 in 2007 to 50,444 last year. Property crimes, including burglary, larceny and theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, increased from 289,055 in 2007 to 297,042 in 2008.

Other conclusions from the report:

  • Fewer kids got into trouble during 2008. Arrests of juveniles for all crimes decreased 2.6 percent to 104,062.
  • Hate crime incidents dropped, too, from 136 in 2007 to 90 in 2008.
  • More drunks were behind the wheel. Arrests for driving under the influence increased 3.5 percent to 54,114. Of the total, 78 percent of those arrested were male.

Pennsylvania’s web-based UCR system allows law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Limerick (PA) Township Police Department, to enter monthly data directly into a state police database. It can be viewed there as soon as submitted.

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LIMERICK  PA – Weekend (May 9-10, 2009) jottings from a reporter’s notebook:

Paying Homage To The Fallen

If you pass a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle this week (May 10-16, 2009), take note of the blue ribbon tied to the handle on its left rear door. Every patrol vehicle in the troopers’ fleet will bear those ribbons to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, according to state Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign, which observes National Police Week, is sponsored by Concerns of Police Survivors Inc. It’s a national organization that represents more than 15,000 surviving families of fallen officers.

Local Expertise In The 422 Debate

A scene that's all too familiar: traffic on Route 422 East snakes its way toward the Trooper PA exit.

Can making U.S. Rt. 422 a toll highway solve this?

Some of the discussion about turning U.S. Route 422, between King of Prussia and Reading, into a toll road focuses on two topics: how the toll will be collected, and how the proceeds will be spent.

Advocates claim the toll could be collected electronically, using a kind of Easy-Pass system or something similar. Well, as an aside, there happens to be an area expert in the “something similar” department.

E-Transit, a company located in the Norristown suburb of Bridgeport PA, on Thursday (May 7, 2009) won a contract from the Gasparilla Island (FL) Bridge Authority to install a new toll system on a bridge between the island and the neighboring city of Boca Grande, according to the Gasparilla Gazette newspaper.

E-Transit beat out four other bidders for the job, which is expected to cost almost $592,000. One of the company’s selling points: in the future, the bridge toll collection system can be modified from one that scans existing bar codes fixed to car windshields, to one that electronically tracks tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) chips inside cars.

Advocates also suggest the collected proceeds must be used to enhance existing, and install new, mass transit projects to serve the 422 corridor. Montgomery County planners favor a rail line that could extend west at least to Pottstown, and possibly farther to Reading. Well, as a second aside, there happens to be an area expert in community rail transit systems.

STV Inc., a Douglassville PA-based engineering firm, last month (April 2009) announced that one of its affiliates, STV/Ralph White Associates in North Carolina, won an award for work in designing and managing the construction of a $462 million, 9.6-mile light rail system in Charlotte NC. The number of riders currently using the system is almost double what was expected.

How do achievements of either company affect the 422 debate? Maybe they don’t. Maybe they shouldn’t. Then again, maybe both firms could be tapped as local resources to help address increasing public questions about the toll road proposal.

All That Glitters For April Fools

Fire hydrant bling-bling.

Fire hydrant bling-bling.

Gotta hand it to the volunteers of the Trappe (PA) Fire Company: they’ve got a sense of political humor. Although this item is more than a month old, it’s still timely to share … given the economic recovery headlines now seen almost daily.

Trappe firefighters and emergency personnel regularly post items on their website that report to the public about activities in which they’re involved. Last week web visitors could find an April 24-dated article about a fire on Stine Drive in Collegeville, to which the company responded. There’s also an April 22 article about a Norristown fire, where the company provided assistance, and an April 2 article about a vehicle accident.

Then there’s this, dated April 1:

“In an unprecedented and unexpected move, Trappe Fire Company today received a windfall $2 million dollar grant from the federal government TARP recovery fund program. Local congressional leaders have been working diligently to secure the funds to ensure the conversion to solid Gold Fire Hydrants could be completed before all the government money was spent on bailouts and other less-than-effective programs.”

The story goes on for three more paragraphs, and is accompanied by a photo of a gold-colored fire hydrant.

Its by-lined author: “Justin Kiddin-Mann.”

Website image from TrappeFire.org