Brian Kelly's Crime Control & Safety Recommendations as Mayor Of Wilkes-Barre
The number one issue facing Wilkes-Barre is violent drug related crime. Our City has other issues such as affordability and cleanliness and some other concerns for sure; but violent gang-drug-thug crime is definitely number one. Bringing back the same people to work on this problem is definitely not going to solve the problem or a plan would already be on the table and the problem would be well on its way to being solved. This is not the case.
Platitudes do nothing but make us all feel better for a short while. Solutions remove problems. I wrote this essay to show that there is a real solution but nobody but Brian Kelly, right now is proposing it. I have been studying our crime problem and I have a real solution for our City. At the 402nd MP Unit in Wilkes-Barre; and the 107th MP Corps in Utica, NY, I served as a Reserve Military Policeman. These units took over the MP duties periodically at several bases in the Northeast. A six-year former Reserve Military Policeman would not be brought in to solve Wilkes-Barre's gang, drug and crime problem no matter how many times he patrolled Army bases with a loaded 45 caliber weapon. Likewise a retired chief on a police pension since 2004 would not be the go-to-guy for such expertise. Like the MP, his experience is not on the mark and not current. More of the same is not the proper solution for Wilkes-Barre. It is the problem. Building expert help is the only answer.
Mayor Leighton; Councilmen Brown and George, both candidates for Mayor; and the rest of Council, have failed to act proactively when it comes to fighting crime. It seems everyone at City Hall, the Mayor, the Council and former Police Chief Tony George seem to believe that saturation patrols are the answer to this crime wave of murder. According to the Mayor, they have been conducting saturation patrols for several years and unfortunately it has not been working. By contrast, I am laying out an effective plan to fight for my City and my Neighbors.
The current Mayor and City Council members have failed in the proper police response to our crime problem and more importantly, they have failed to professionalize the Police Department. Police professionalism begins with the individual and it carries on into the officers' interactions with family, friends, and the public. Lacking such an ethos, it comes as no surprise that police officers in the City are going to jail while criminals are blithely killing people in our streets.
Recently we have observed a systemic failure within the culture of the police department itself which is not naturally going to change simply by installing a new chief. How can we expect our police to fight this criminal element when their own house is in such disarray?
We have shootings and murders on a round-the-clock basis and instead of offering us protection, the City Police are pleading to fraud. I am confident that most police are not affiliated with the tow truck operator and most are not engaging in domestic abuse. However, it is very important for those who swear to keep us safe to maintain their code of honor. Citizens need qualified professionals to lead the fix that Wilkes-Barre needs.
Our elected leaders have dropped the ball when it comes to fighting crime in the City. For our sake as a community, I do hope that the Mayor and Council reengage with a plan to fight the violence that has gripped the City. This is not an election matter. It is the survival of the City that is at stake.
It appears everyone at City Hall mistakenly believes that Tony George has the answer when asking for saturation patrols. The Mayor believes that the police have already been doing saturation patrols. Clearly if this is the case, it has not worked and we must ask the question, "Why has Tony George simply reiterated what the current Mayor has already said and which the Mayor has already initiated?" Perhaps instead of immediately re-acting, we need to use our minds, think, plan, and become a lot smarter.
Unfortunately, press darling Tony George has not been a police chief since January 2004 and hasn't yet differentiated today's crisis from the status quo of the early 2000's. As a former member of the Military Police, I know that the nature of the City's crime is qualitatively and quantitatively distinct its counterpart a decade ago and thereby believe the City of Wilkes-Barre requires a top quality Public Safety Director / Police Commissioner with an extensive law enforcement background.
My first act as mayor will be to hire/assign a Public Safety Director (PSD) to oversee the Police, Fire, and City Worker Departments. Having one focal point of control will help the City build a contingency plan for all emergencies, and be proactive, not reactive to problems. My selection for a PSD would be a highly qualified former career police officer with a background in drug, criminal, and homicide investigations.
The PSD must have accumulated a record of police supervisory experience dealing with undercover drug investigations, informant files, documenting expenditures, and working with other agencies. The PSD must have experience in fairly evaluating how police officers function within their environment.
The PSD must be capable of identifying problem areas within the department and correcting those problems impartially and quickly. In addition, I would expect this person to make suggestions on how to incorporate tight oversight of the other city agencies and possible evaluation of their value in solving our City's problems.
First and foremost, I would shake up and shape up our police department and address serious systemic personal issues that have allowed a culture of complacency to grip the department. We have seen too many examples of this culture playing out in the press, causing embarrassment to the City and the professionals within the police department.
The new Mayor of Wilkes-Barre needs to establish a Violent Crime Unit in which only the best police officers are evaluated and selected. We need a top quality unit supervisor and officers selected from within or hired from outside the department. Members of this unit would be fighting violent crime exclusively. They would not engage in domestic abuse problems or engage in minor burglaries or traffic violations. They would have no such trivial duties.
Their mission would be to fight organized gang related drug crime and the homicides that result from such activity. Wilkes-Barre would be quite proud of this unit. The candidate I would select for Public Safety Director will be one with a demonstrated ability to investigate, document, and arrest criminals associated with corrupt organizations.
You know by now that I want to be your mayor. I know that with the right team we can help make Wilkes-Barre a safe city once again for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren's children. I live here as well as my own children and we wish to remain rather than flee.
I have consulted with several former police professionals and researched the relevant statistics. It did not take long to realize that we have a serious problem that our current Mayor and Council have failed to address by failing to act immediately.
If we were to elect a current member of Council to be our next Mayor, would we not be saying to our current elected administration that we are pleased with their performance? Are we really pleased? Has the establishment in the form of Mayor Leighton teamed with his Council, really met our expectations?
Wilkes-Barre Council includes two current candidates for Mayor. The candidates are running on what they will do for the City, not on what they have done for the City during their terms. What have they done? Do we really want more of the same lack of accountability and incompetence as in the gas crisis and the Credit Union scandal? That is what we are being offered.
I am running for Mayor because I believe we have big problems that will not ever be solved unless we get the same old faces out of City Hall. We need to replace them with people who are competent and who care about our City enough to work as smart as possible to move the City out of the sludge. If those managing City Hall loved Wilkes-Barre as much as they love being in City Hall, would we not have less problems than we have today? Does it seem City Hall really cares about citizens of Wilkes-Barre? Those who I talk to say, "No!" Does anybody care when you call about that pot hole; the unplowed street; the dilapidated home next door; the smell at the end of the block; or the car by the curb with no inspection sticker and three flat tires. And what about those "older than kids" making excessive noise? That, ladies and gentlemen has to do with leadership.
When I walk the many sections of Wilkes-Barre, I enjoy talking to the neighbors. The residents are not happy. They tell me that the entire dispassionate governing establishment must be thrown out and replaced by new representatives of the people, who care about our City and who are committed to bringing us back to good times. Good times cannot happen if we keep bringing back the same stale officials time and time again and expect different results.
You can see my plan for safety as it is summarized in this document? All of my written thoughts and plans are available at briankellyformayor.com. Ask yourself if you see a similar viable plan from any of the others in this race? Do you see a workable plan being brought forth by the present Council that still has nine months left to term? They not only can dream of what they would do when in office in 2016; with nine more months to go; they can actually do something. What is it that they are doing besides jawboning? Do any of us really know?
We all know that responsibility entails planning ahead, as far ahead as possible without losing present focus. Foresight is key. Crime, drugs, and gangs are not new to Wilkes-Barre. In this case, as in many others in life, nobody planned to fail; the City (the mayor, the Council, and their subordinates), simply failed to plan. The response so far in this time of great need for action has been chimerical.
Tony George, George Brown, the other members of Council, and the Mayor failed to plan as a collective of elected city officials. It was not a failure of the citizens.
Under my leadership, the Public Safety Director would produce an annual report specifically relating to Public Safety. Such a plan is a cut above any semblance of a plan created for a city without such expertise. City officials can never be caught off guard again. The most important position we can hire in the coming years is the Public Safety Director.
For this position, we need a true professional with a proven track record and great tenacity to tackle this problem. I know someone in particular who has agreed to assist my administration. Long before I decided to make a run for Mayor, we had lengthy discussions and only when he agreed to filling this position did I choose to commit to run for Mayor of Wilkes-Barre.
I am hopeful to have the opportunity to begin repairing the City at its most crucial and fundamental level, the necessity of Public Safety.