Quebec Unit (Housing Authority Unit)
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The Quebec Unit is a specialized unit within the Erie Police Patrol Division, overseen by the Patrol Captain.  The unit’s primary function is to patrol all areas owned and operated by The City Of Erie Housing Authority.  The Quebec Unit is a joint collaboration between the City of Erie Police Dept. and The City of Erie Housing Authority.  

The Quebec Unit was conceived in 1997.  There were approximately 1200 incidents reported to the Erie Police Dept. from Housing Authority residents.  They were primarily drug-related incidents and shots fired calls.  The City of Erie Housing Authority and City of Erie Police mutually agreed to have officers permanently assigned to patrol all areas owned and operated by the City of Erie Housing Authority.  The Housing Authority reimburses The City of Erie the salaries for the officers assigned to Quebec Unit through a federally funded grant called The Community Oriented Police and Probation Service (COPPS).  The City of Erie Housing Authority renovated an apartment complex within the John Horan Gardens formerly known as the Franklin Terrace.  This was done to provide a satellite location for officers to complete paperwork and give a location for the residents of public housing to have easier access to police services.  It is located at 2110 East 10th Street Apt. 1 Erie, PA 16511.  The Quebec Unit also shares the office with a representative from the Crime/Victim Center.  Located in the other apartments in the complex are representatives from Erie County Adult and Juvenile Probation, State Parole, Crime/Victim Center, Safe Net, Gannon Health Services and other agencies that the Housing Authority has similar agreements.  

The purpose of the unit was to break the stereotypical model of “Protect and Serve” and assign officers to the unit to be more community based.  The Community Oriented Police and Probation Service model’s focus is to break the barrier between the police and the public and provide the opportunity for the police and residents to work hand in hand to make their neighborhoods safer.

Officers from the Patrol Division were rotated through the Quebec Unit.  Officers assigned to the unit were randomly selected and completed tours of duty usually lasting twelve months.  All the officers assigned complete daily reports that are forwarded to the Housing Authority.  The reports contain information about all incidents that take place on Housing Authority premises.  They range from major crimes, quality of life issues and contacts that police may have with the residents.  Monthly meetings are scheduled, where the officers assigned meet with John Horan (Executive Director of the Erie Housing Authority), Michael Fraley (Resident Incentive Coordinator), Adult and Juvenile Probation Officers, Code Enforcement, Victim/Witness, Safe Net, Housing & Building Managers and Maintenance Supervisors.  The purpose of the meeting is to openly share concerns and information that is related to public housing and the incidents that have occurred.

In 2002, the Community Oriented Police Model appeared to be working because the crime had dropped nearly 50%, however something was still missing.  It was at that time that the City of Erie Police Dept. put into effect the unit that is currently in effect.  Six full time officers were assigned to work two shifts from 1200 until 2030 and 2000 until 0400 hours.  Two officers staff the Quebec Unit at all times.  The permanent assignment was done to give officers and residents a better opportunity to know each other and for residents to be more comfortable when needing to contact the police.  The responsibilities for the officers in the unit have changed as well.  Officers now do walk throughs of high rise apartment complexes, participate in crime prevention programs as well as patrol activities.  In addition to the quarterly updates provided by the police dept., officers also attend training sponsored by the City of Erie Housing Authority, relating to issues such as civil residency laws, domestic violence laws and the policies and procedures followed by the Housing Authority.  All officers assigned to the Quebec Unit attend the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IMPBA) Basic Rider Course.  The Housing Authority has purchased Trek mountain bikes fully equipped with lights and sirens.  This was done to allow officers to ride in public housing neighborhoods to be able to be more accessible to the residents.  Officers also attend numerous functions such as the Annual Family Picnic at Waldammer Park, Children’s Christmas Parties and assist in a co-sponsored Bike Rodeo where officers provide bicycle helmets to children and help them complete obstacle course.  All this is done to give the children and residents a positive experience with the police officers assigned to public housing.

Since it’s original inception in 1997, the crime rate has continued to drop.  As of 2006, the crime rate dropped 73% or roughly 350 call of service per year.  Although patrol still remains the primary focus of the unit, officers have a better understanding of the needs of the residents of public housing and the residents have a better relationship with the police.

For questions or concerns regarding the Quebec Unit contact:
Quebec Unit
Cpl. T. Couatto   Phone: (814) 870-1125
    E-Mail: tcouatto@erie.pa.us
       
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