May 18—Police seized thousands of dollars and a variety of drugs during an eight-hour multi-department patrol of Greater Hazleton.
Scores of local officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers showed a unified front to enforce laws during the detail, which began Friday night. Troopers said the patrols were conducted to increase the safety of the communities they serve.
State police at Hazleton released patrol figures Monday, citing the combined effort resulted in:
— 104 traffic citations being issued.
— Seven drug arrests and the seizure of marijuana, ecstasy, heroin and fentanyl.
— $25,000 and one firearm being seized.
— Seven driving under the influence arrests.
— Eight arrest warrants served.
Troopers set up their mobile command at the Hazleton Fire Department on East Broad Street after coordinating the effort with city officers. Support came from the state police aviation unit, vice unit, SHIELD unit, K-9 unit and auto theft unit. Hazleton police used their drones, patrol vehicles and two motorcycles to conduct the operation.
Luzerne County sheriffs and officers from West Hazleton, Butler Twp. and Wright Twp., all of Luzerne County, and Weatherly in Carbon County also participated.
Hazleton police Chief Brian Schoonmaker said at least 80 officers participated in the maneuvers from 7 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday. The saturation patrols involved both marked and unmarked vehicles and was the third such undertaking by area law enforcement within a year. Schoonmaker said residents should expect to see similar details in the future.
The various law enforcement resources provided a "highly visible presence in the community that increased public safety and served as a deterrent to criminal activity," according to a news release authored by Trooper David Peters.
It's to the benefit of everyone in the region for law enforcement to work with neighboring departments, police say.
"We're working hand-in-hand with southern Luzerne County," said Weatherly Sgt. Michael Bogart. Hazleton is a source city, said Bogart, meaning people from outlying areas head to Hazleton to buy drugs before they return home, so Weatherly officers work closely with Hazleton police to share intelligence.
"Even though Hazleton sits in a different county than us I bet you five out of seven days of the week we're on the phone with the city" because of investigations that stretch into both communities, said Bogart.
Officers attached to the Luzerne County Drug Task Force participated in the detail, said Butler Twp. Police Chief William Feissner. That arrangement allowed for the extra manpower in Hazleton without costing individual communities anything, he said. In return, each community's police officers gained more intelligence on crime that crosses into every community in the area.
"Criminals don't know municipal lines and the increased efforts help everyone," said Feissner.
The recent patrol detail illustrates how the departments work together, "not just on those days (of special patrols) but every day," he said.
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