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Harrisburg police to open 24-hour precinct in Allison Hill neighborhood

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- With the hopes of significantly cutting crime in Harrisburg's most dangerous neighborhood, police Chief Tom Carter recently announced the city's plans to convert a rarely-used police substation in South Allison Hill into a fully-staffed precinct later this summer.

The station sits on the corner of 15th and Drummond streets, one block south of Derry Street. Harrisburg Police have operated the building since the 1990's, and once used it as a more functional police substation. More recently, officers typically use it for mid-day paperwork, Carter says.

Much like the hope for the South Allison Hill neighborhood, Chief Carter plans to entirely rehabilitate the building, inside and out. The city will use federal money from its Community Development Block Grant, with plans to convert the interior to a fully functional police station with holding cells. Outside the one-story building, developers will take a vacant lot next door, and convert it into a parking lot.

Chief Carter hopes the project, which is says is long overdue, is completed by the end of the summer.

"This area over the last couple years have given us the most homicides," Carter said of the neighborhood. "It's the biggest drug trade area."

His hope is by placing staff in the middle of Harrisburg's crime district, response times will shrink, and violence will go down considerably.

"Foot patrols will be out here. Bike patrols, motorcycles. People are investing a lot of money out here, and want to protect their interests," Carter said. "But the main reason is providing a better service to the residents of this city."

A full-time police station in South Allison Hill is exactly what some residents feel needs to happen.

Jeremy Domenico, the Vice President of the neighborhood's housing association, spends four days every week literally cleaning up city streets. Driving a dump truck, he picks up illegally dumped items -- mostly furniture -- which have found their way onto lawns, lots, and streets.

"I think illegal dumping and blight lead exactly to violence, 100 percent," he says. "When you leave your house every day and walk over a pile of steaming garbage and people don't even blink about it, that's a problem."

His goal is by giving Allison Hill residents a cleaner place to live, they'll have more of a desire to take ownership of where they live. It won't happen overnight, Domenico acknowledges, but his work, combined with a new precinct, is a step in the right direction.

"Our city didn't get like this overnight so it's not going to be peaches and cream overnight either," he says.