I live in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. I have lived here the majority of my life. Growing up it was a decent community. The crime was never really out of control and people tended to look out for one another. Murders were relatively non-existent. It had your typical crimes like any other community. It was a nice place to live.
It has changed quite a bit over the years. Drug use and peddling has decimated this once pleasant community. Wilkes-Barre is located between New York and Philadelphia. It apparently looked like an easy target for the drug pushers. In 2013 we have had 13 murders, more per capita then parts of New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City. All but 2 of these murders were connected with drugs, with the majority being committed by people from outside the area.
There are about 41,000 people living in the city. We have 81 police officers. We are supposed to have 91, but our mayor does not believe we need a full complement. 7 officers recently retired and there are at least 4 that were hurt while on duty. 2 of which most likely will not return. So that leaves us at 74 officers. Mayor Tom Leighton recently said the city was hiring 10 officers. He neglected to mention the retirees. He also said he doesn’t believe there is a crime problem in Wilkes-Barre. It seems as if his head is buried in the sand.
Facebook is used by 40% of the people in the U.S. daily. As much garbage that you find on there, you also find some very useful sites. I follow several Crime Watch pages, with Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch 2 being my preferred page. Before I go on I would like to say that I know the Police work hard. I know that it is a difficult job. I believe our area needs at least 100 if not 120 officers to stop the disintegration of our community. But daily we here about calls being put on hold. Officers having to wait to go on a call because they do not have an officer to assist them. There are 6 Cops on the streets during all three shifts. Does anyone believe this is enough?
Wilkes-Barre spent a large sum of money to put cameras up around the city. None of them seem to work. What is the use? The mayor has been called out for shady deals on local properties. He is very dismissive of citizens who question him at City Council meetings. He has called citizens names at these proceedings. The city pays for his alarm system at his home. During his tenure as mayor the city has progressively gone downhill. Taxes are raised, garbage bags cost more, permits cost more, recycling fee and all other city fees have gone up. Yet t hth e city no longer cleans the streets and cannot hire more officers. We also recive money from the Casino, the naming of a local ice rink and parking meters. Where is all of this money going?
If a city is having the amount of trouble Wilkes-Barre is, why are they nit asking for help? Why are the State Police not involved? Why are other local police forces only used on occasion? Why is the DEA or FBI not involved to help with the drug problem? Why are citizens calling about drug deals being made out of a house for 2 years and nothing has been done? Why are arrest records being fudged? Why are people that were busted for drugs on the street? Why are those said people on bail and being busted for murder? These are some of the issues facing Wilkes-Barre. Why are we not getting answers for our questions?
Growing up I could walk all over my neighborhood. Now I don’t let my daughters go anywhere. The tax base is shrinking in our area because people are leaving. Who wants to deal with this? I believe Wilkes-Barre has reached a breaking point. If something is not done soon, we will face a mass exodus. There is no reason this can’t be the city my parents knew. It is time to fix our broken city.