Public Safety

Trick or Treat Night & Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween week has finally arrived! We’ve been getting calls since mid-summer about Trick or Treat night. This year it is on Halloween - Monday, October 31 from 6 to 8 pm.

The Lancaster City Police Department posted Halloween safety tips on their Facebook page last year. Here are some highlights:

- Choose brightly colored costumes and add reflective tape to costumes and treat bags.

- Plan to trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets.

- Even if you are accompanying your children, make sure they know your phone number and address in case you are separated. Consider giving them a cell phone to carry and teach them how to call 911.

- Don’t send young children out to trick or treat alone, and make sure to tell older children to stick together.

- Remind your children to never enter a stranger’s home or approach any vehicles.

The City of Lancaster wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Flood Precautions

turn around don't drown

A reminder to take precaution whenever a prolonged rain falls over several days or when an intense amount of rain falls over a short period of time. Water is a powerful force of Mother Nature and it doesn’t take much for a flash flood to strike. Roads and other areas covered by water should not be entered regardless if you’re on foot or in a vehicle. You may not truly know the depth of the water or the state of the ground/road underneath. Plan ahead and use an alternative route when traveling near the areas listed below. Play it safe and “turn around don’t drown®”. 

FLOOD PRONE AREAS IN THE CITY OF LANCASTER

800 block New Holland Avenue

900 & 1000 block N. Plum Street

N. Ann & E. Walnut Street

E. Walnut Street extension

400 block Harrisburg Avenue

Steel Way & Manheim Pike

Citizen's Police Academy Deadline Extended

Would you like to learn about gangs? What goes in to a criminal investigation? The science of fingerprint analysis? What happens when a complaint is filed against an officer? An opportunity to shoot police duty weapons? Tour our 911 center?

You will learn all this, and more, at our Citizens Police Academy. Seats are still available for the Academy that begins on Wednesday, March 18th at 6:30 pm.

We have extended the deadline for applications to Sunday, March 8th, 2015. You can obtain an application at the front desk of the police station, or go to the below link and download an application here.

Citizen's Police Academy

The Lancaster City Police will host a 10-week Citizen's Police Academy beginning Wednesday, March 18th.

Classes will be held from 6:30 - 9 pm at the police station except for a few off-site classes. Only 20 seats are available.

The Lancaster City Citizens’ Police Academy (CPA) offers citizens the opportunity to learn about the internal operations of the Lancaster City Police Department. The Citizens’ Police Academy speakers, (mostly Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice experts in their fields), provide lectures, demonstrations, tours, and hands-on activities for Academy participants.

The overall objective of the Academy is to provide citizens with sound and accurate information about the Lancaster City Police and the criminal justice process so citizens are able to make informed decisions regarding issues / matters involving the police department and/or police activity. Participants will be able to share their experiences and learned information with family, friends, co-workers, and their community to further improve and strengthen community-police relations. The Academy is open to anyone 18 years of age or older, however, priority is given to Lancaster City residents.

Click here for a copy of the application. Deadline for submission is February 27th.

Be confident that safety is priority in Lancaster

LNP’s Editorial Board has called upon city officials to “restore the public’s confidence in the city’s safety.”

Indeed, instilling confidence in the safety, vitality and livability of the City of Lancaster is my most important responsibility. I accept that responsibility without reservation or equivocation.

As mayor, I will continue to do everything government can do to maintain and enhance Lancaster’s safety and its stature as a premier community in which to live or conduct business.

The murder of Nicole Mathewson was a senseless and vicious act, a loss of immeasurable magnitude, a cause of immense grief, and a reason for lasting prayer. Sadly, neither the city nor the rest of the county is a haven from this type of evil. In recent years, communities from Elizabethtown to Drumore have lost neighbors to heinous killers who have invaded the homes of their victims.

At the same time, there can be no denying or minimizing the sudden and unsettling rise in gun violence in the city. The fact that these incidents have so shaken our community is evidence that gun violence is outside the norm of day-to-day life in Lancaster. Be assured that we do not intend to allow this to become the new norm.

Incidents of violence over the recent past, though unrelated, have been perpetrated by a small group of young people, many of whom have prior criminal records or involvement with illegal possession of firearms. In all of these cases, when victims and witnesses have cooperated with police, arrests have been made, warrants have been issued, or suspects have been identified.

We remain committed to aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws. We will be proactive in locating and seizing illegal firearms prior to their use. When a gun is used or seized during the commission of a crime in this city, we will demand high bail and incarceration if a perpetrator is convicted.

There is no one solution to violence and disorder, and a collective effort is needed to keep any community safe. The City of Lancaster is no exception. Those with information about criminal conduct who fail to cooperate with law enforcement allow violence to continue. Anyone with access to a computer or phone can provide information anonymously.

Don’t wait for a crime to occur, and don’t think that you must tolerate disruption in your neighborhood. Residents often say that they don’t want to bother the police with a phone call to report suspicious or disruptive activity. We want and need people to call 911 anytime they witness suspicious or disruptive activity.

Others claim that police don’t respond to calls on a timely basis. In some instances, this may be the case. Police prioritize calls as they’re received and respond accordingly. Please be patient and rest assured that our police bureau strives to provide the best and most reliable service possible.

We will continue to build relationships between city police and the community they serve. As many residents know, the city is divided into 12 sectors or neighborhoods. A map and contact information for each neighborhood sector is posted on the police website. Sector officers are frequent participants in neighborhood meetings, gatherings and church services. In the coming year, sector officers, fire bureau personnel and housing inspectors will join forces and convene meetings in each neighborhood sector.

Finally, city government does not have the resources, the expertise or the moral authority to replace parents, pastors, teachers and other responsible adults who have daily influence over the decisions and the actions of our youth.

These same youth live in a country with relatively easy access to firearms, and an entertainment industry that trivializes human life and glorifies extreme violence. Movies and video games expose young people to repeated violent scenes in which killings occur without remorse, mourning or meaning. Is it any wonder that misguided young people with guns are further desensitized to the consequences of their actions?

Couple this with the sad and unforgivable reality that many of our neighbors are still experiencing the vestiges of hundreds of years of discrimination, racism and poverty, and many of our young people see limited options for a better future. We ignore these realities at our own peril.

The quality of life in Lancaster does continue to improve. Our collective challenge is to make sure that every member of our community shares in that life.

J. Richard Gray, mayor

Vigil to be held in response to recent violence

In troubled times, it is important for us all to come together.

In the wake of recent violence, a candlelight vigil will be held in Lancaster’s Penn Square on Thursday evening, from 7-8 p.m. The event will allow people to join together in prayer, reflection and mutual support. All are welcome.

Downtown churches are being asked to ring their bells for one minute, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

"After the tragic events of the last several days with random gun violence, the senseless killing of a schoolteacher followed by a suicide in Lancaster City, many of us are looking for answers and healing,” said City Council member James Reichenbach, who is hosting the vigil with fellow City Council member Barbara Wilson.

“This is a chance for us all to come together in prayer and reflection,” said Council member Wilson. “We want parents to bring their children, neighbors, clergy, everyone. No, matter what your faith or denomination, with everything going on in this city, with everything going on in this country and this world. It’s time for us all to come out and stand together united as a city.”

There will be no formal program at the vigil. After a period of somber reflection and prayer by candlelight, before the bells, the hope from the Council member is that the event will end with music and a spirit of renewal. People are invited to bring drums, guitars and other instruments.

City + Mix at Arbor Place form PAL

Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL) programs have been successful in countless urban communities throughout the United States, fostering positive relationships between neighborhood children and the police officers that serve their communities. That is why the City of Lancaster has partnered with the Mix at Arbor Place to form a local PAL.

PAL programs are a mainstay across the country. Officers mentor local youth through activities like sports, music, dance, and outdoor recreation. City of Lancaster police office Josiah King will lead the program, and has already recruited officers and other volunteers to teach basketball, martial arts, and archery to children at the Mix at Arbor Place. The Mix at Arbor Place provides at-risk youth a safe environment, adult mentoring, homework help, recreational programs, bible studies and a hot meal. The PAL program builds on the already strong after-school programs provided by Arbor Place.

The Lancaster PAL will begin September 29 with archery, basketball, flag football, outdoor recreation and much more. The program is made possible through the support of the Gunterberg Foundation, Steinman Foundation, Clark Family Foundation, and Rodgers and Associates. 

Celebrate Lancaster street closures

Celebrate Lancaster showcases the cultures and diversity of the people who live and work in Lancaster City, with local foods, locally crafted wine and beer, and also professional, local and regional entertainment.

There will be two stages of entertainment, both at Binns Park and Penn Square, featuring great live music from a variety of sounds including bluegrass, Latino, R&B, rock n’ roll and more. Also, two beer and wine pub areas will be part of the event, one adjacent to the Penn Square stage and one across from the main stage at Binns Park. Over 25 food vendors will line North Queen Street throughout the day and evening – making this a true festival for the senses. 

For this event on Friday, June 27th, several streets will be closed. Please note the following street closures:

7 AM

  • East Grant Street at Christian Street to North Queen Street

9 AM                    

  • Zero and 100 block of North Queen Street
  • 100 block North Christian Street
  • Zero block East Marion Street to Christian

6 PM                     

  • 100 and 200 blocks of North Cherry Street
  • Zero block of North Christian Street

9:30 PM

  • Zero block of West Chestnut Street
  • Zero and 100 blocks of East Chestnut Street
  • Zero and 100 blocks of East Fulton Street
  • 100 and 200 blocks of North Duke Street
  • 000 and 100 blocks of East Orange Street
  • 000 and 100 blocks of West Orange Street

Streets will remain closed until all fireworks debris has been cleaned off the streets. The first street open will be the zero block of West Chestnut Street opening at approximately 11:30 PM. Remaining streets will open by 2:00 AM on Saturday, June 28th.

The street closures will affect bus routes. Please visit the RRTA website for bus detours.

For more information about Celebrate Lancaster, please visit www.lancastercityevents.com.

Recreational Fires: Rules, Regulations and Safety

Warm weather is finally upon us. With summer quickly approaching, neighbors are anxious to spend time outdoors, including building recreation fires in the yards. While recreational fires are permitted, there are rules and regulations that must be followed.

From the City Code:

307.1.1 Prohibited open burning. Open burning that is offensive or objectionable because of smoke emissions or when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous shall be prohibited.

307.3 Extinguishment authority. The fire code official is authorized to order the extinguishment by the permit holder, another person responsible or the fire department of open burning that creates or adds to a hazardous or objectionable situation.

307.4.3. Portable outdoor fireplaces. Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet (3048 mm) of a structure or combustible material.

307.5 Attendance. Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires and use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906 with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden house or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.

This means you should make sure to:

- Burn only dry material. Dampness will create excess smoke. Also keep chemicals, plastics and aerosols out of the fire to limit dangerous smoke and emissions.

- Comply if an official asks you to extinguish the fire.

- Only build fires at least 15 feet away from houses, sheds, fences or other structures. Also, avoid low-hanging branches, tall grass, or brush and stay away from items that can easily catch on fire. 

- Keep a fire extinguisher, dirt, sand or water readily available.

- Have a responsible adult present to keep an eye on the fire at all times.

Stay safe this summer! If you have any questions, contact the Bureau of Fire.

Mayor’s Report - January 14, 2014

I'm pleased to report that agreements have been reached with two of the City's three bargaining units.  Last month, we completed separate contract negotiations with the Lancaster Police Officers Association and with non-uniformed personnel represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.  We appreciate the efforts of these bargaining units to negotiate in good faith to arrive at a mutually agreeable contract.   Highlights of these agreements follow.

First, Police union members have ratified a three-year contract that began on January 1st.  Medical savings achieved by being self-insured in 2012 and 2013, provided the City with some flexibility in salary negotiations.  Thus, the Police contract provides for annual salary increases of 3 percent in 2014;  and 2.75 percent in 2015, and again in 2016.  The cost of the 3% increase in 2014 is approximately $300,000 and the average salary for a Police Officer in 2014 will be $71,500.   Additional salary increases of .25% or .5% in 2015 and 2016 may be awarded if certain medical insurance savings are achieved.

The Police Association acknowledged the continued pressure of medical insurance costs and agreed to higher employer contributions for medical benefits.  Police contributions for family medical coverage have increased from zero in 2007 to $520/year in 2009 to $1,344 in 2014.  Police employee contributions to medical insurance coverage will increase to 7 percent of the COBRA equivalent beginning in 2015, and 8 percent of the COBRA equivalent in 2016. 

Finally, police officers hired after January 2015 will be on a different longevity schedule.  This will result in a 40% savings over the current longevity schedule that can add as much as $10,000 to an Officer's base salary each year.  The Police Association also agreed to accept the City's Domestic Partner Benefits Policy. 

As for our non-uniformed employees, AFSCME has ratified a three-year contract that provides the same salary increases as the Police contract.  That is, 3 percent increase in 2014 and 2.75 percent in 2015, and again in 2016. 

As of January 1st, changes will be made in the way employee contributions to medical insurance benefits are calculated for AFSCME employees.   That is to say, employee contributions will no longer be based on salary ranges.  Instead, beginning this year all employees will contribute 5 percent of the cost of medical insurance, or the COBRA equivalent rate.   In 2015 and 2016, this contribution could increase to 6 percent if health care costs increase by more than 6 percent in either year. 

Again, we appreciate the good faith and cooperative spirit that characterized negotiation of these two contracts.  Having these contracts in place for the next three years provides the City with some degree of certainty with respect to labor costs that have such a significant impact on our long-term financial planning.  We look forward to equally productive and cooperative discussions with our Firefighters union when those contract negotiations begin later this year.  

Rick Gray
Mayor

Space Heater Safety Tips

You may have heard about the unfortunate 4-alarm house fire on Coral Street on Wednesday, November 13. Luckily the occupants were not home at the time, but a dog died in the fire and the building was heavily damaged. The fire was accidental, but like many this time of year, was sparked by a space heater.

While space heaters are great for heating small spaces for a short period of time, they pose potential risks if not used properly.

Keep your home and family safe this fall and winter by reviewing the following tips*:

#1 – Read the manufacturer’s instructions and any warning labels before use.

#2 – Keep flammable materials (fuel, fabrics, paper, etc.) away from the heater.

#3 – Unless heater is specifically designed for use outdoors or in a bathroom, keep your heater out of damp areas. It could be damaged by the moisture, resulting in a fire or electric shock.

#4 – Occasionally check for a snug outlet fit. If the plug doesn’t fit into the outlet securely, or if the plug overheats, the outlet may need to be replaced.

#5 – Unplug the heater when not in use. Pull the plug straight out from the outlet; don’t yank on the cord. If the cord becomes damaged, do not use the heater until the cord is replaced.

#6 – Keep your heater at least 3 feet away from objects like curtains, beds, furniture, etc. Ensure that the heater’s air intake and exhaust sources are not blocked by anything.

#7 – Place the heater on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture, as damage from a fall may cause a fire or shock hazard.

# 8 – Keep children away from heaters and do not leave a heater in a child’s room without supervision.

#9 – String out cords on top of rugs or other flooring. Placing the cord underneath something could cause damage to the cord.

#10 – Do not use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. If you must use one, it should be marked “12-gauge” or “14-gauge.”

If you have any questions about fire safety, feel free to contact the  Lancaster City Bureau of Fire at 717-291-4866.

*Adapted from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers "10 Tips for Use and Care of your Portable Air Heater" brochure.