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Thank you to the following organizations for their continued support of our research and this Data Dashboard, which is part of Project STIR (Sparking Transformation using Information & Research).

Moses Taylor Foundation
The Robert H. Spitz Foundation
Willary Foundation
Scranton Area Community Foundation
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund
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Public Safety

Public Safety indicators in this section identify important statistics for Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These statistics are used to evaluate the health and efficiency of safety services. They include crime rates, drug-related offenses, vehicle crashes, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses, alcohol-induced crashes, domestic violence offenses, and police officer and fire department statistics.

Generally, this section of the report includes indicators which help measure the quality of life in Pennsylvania as well as in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. A low crime rate typically makes an area attractive to potential residents and businesses.

Strong public safety, social service, educational, and health care infrastructure working together with government and community members are integral.

Crime

Property Crime

In 2019, Lackawanna County’s total number of property crimes continued a seven-year downward trend – standing at 2,196 (down from 2,835 the year before). Property crimes decreased by 23 percent in the county from 2018 to reach their lowest level in a decade, with declines in all property crime categories. Since 2010, property crime totals in Lackawanna County have been reduced by nearly half.

Luzerne County’s total property crime figures entered a sixth year of decline in 2019, at 4,315 total crimes reported – the lowest in over a decade. Property crimes decreased four percent overall from 2018, with small declines in larceny theft and arson. There was a slight uptick in the number of burglaries, while motor vehicle thefts remained unchanged. Overall, property crimes have declined 43 percent in Luzerne County since 2010.

The Commonwealth shows similar improvement trends in the preliminary data for 2019, with property crimes declining for the eighth consecutive year. Property crimes have fallen four percent overall from 2018, and 33 percent since 2010. There were slight declines in the rates of larceny theft and motor vehicle theft from the prior year, and totals for these categories of crimes are at least one quarter lower than ten years ago. Rates of burglary and arson offenses have declined by 13 percent from 2018, and totals for these categories of crimes have fallen by nearly one half or more from 2010.

 

Violent Crime

Lackawanna County experienced year-over-year increases in the number of violent crimes reported from 2013 to 2019, including a 31 increase in the most recent period. There was a significant increase in violent crimes in 2018, driven by a sharp uptick in aggravated assault offenses, which nearly tripled between 2017 and 2018. This category of violent crime offenses continued to increase in 2019, with preliminary data showing an increase of 37 percent from 925 to 1,269, the highest level in the last decade. All other categories of violent crimes declined in 2019.

Luzerne County reported 698 total violent crimes in 2019 – a 13 percent decrease from the prior year, and the lowest level reported in the last decade. All categories of violent crimes declined in the county from 2018, with a 29 percent decrease in the incidence of reported rape, 26 percent decline in robberies, and 41 percent decline in the number of murders. The total number of robberies and aggravated assault offenses reached their lowest level in over the past ten years.

There was a slight increase in violent crime across the Commonwealth in 2019, following two consecutive years of declines. In 2019, total violent crime in Pennsylvania increased one percent to 39,574, due to an uptick in aggravated assault and robbery offenses. The murder rate declined ten percent from 2018, while the reported incidence of rape remained stable. Overall, violent crimes are more than 21 lower than totals reported in 2010, driven by a substantial decrease in robbery and fewer aggravated assault offenses, although aggravated assault has increased statewide more recently.

Total Property Crime

Source : Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System.
*2019 figures are preliminary. 2018 figures have been updated.

Total Violent Crime

Source : Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System.
*2019 figures are preliminary. 2018 figures have been updated.

Drug Abuse

Drug abuse offenses include the manufacture, sale, and possession of drugs. Since 2012, the number of drug offenses in Lackawanna County has increased each year except for a small drop in 2017, reaching 1,168 in 2019. The county has seen a 67 percent increase since its low in 2012.

Despite a slight decline of three percent in drug abuse offenses in 2019, Luzerne County has  experienced significant growth in drug abuse offenses in recent years. There were 2,249 total offenses reported in 2019, more than twice the lowest level reported in 2010. Though the total dropped slightly in 2015 and again in 2017, there has been a general upward trend. Although the number of offenses across the Commonwealth has declined slightly since 2017, there was an upward trend from 2011 to 2017. Statewide drug offenses have increased 19 percent since 2011.

Drug Abuse Offenses

Source : Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System
*2019 data is preliminary. 2018 data has been updated.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Offenses

Lackawanna County’s total number of DUI offenses has fluctuated over the last decade, but decreased noticeably since 2010, and has been trending downward since 2016. After declining six percent since 2018, the number of DUI offenses in the county reached 636, the lowest level recorded over the past decade.

The number of DUI offenses in Luzerne County has declined 11 percent from its peak of 1,325 in 2017 to 1,175 in 2019. This is below the county average of 1,224 DUI offenses per year since 2009, and the lowest point since 2011.

Statewide, the total number of DUI offenses entered its tenth consecutive year of decline – a 21 percent drop since 2009. DUI offenses in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties have consistently accounted for about four percent of all DUI offenses in Pennsylvania.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Offenses

Source : Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System.
*2019 data is preliminary. 2018 data has been updated.

Crashes

Alcohol-Related Crash Deaths

For the first time over the time period analyzed, there were no alcohol-related crash deaths reported in Lackawanna County in 2019. Over the past decade, Lackawanna County has averaged five alcohol-related crash deaths per year. Luzerne County’s average number of alcohol-related crash deaths per year has been 10.8 over the last ten years. Luzerne County’s total number of deaths reported more than doubled from four in 2018 to ten in 2019, the highest level since 2015. Statewide, the number of alcohol-related crash deaths has followed a downward trend for most of the decade. Total statewide deaths declined ten percent in 2019, and are 35 percent lower than the peak in 2010.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

In 2019, motor vehicle crashes in Lackawanna County declined for the second consecutive year to 2,531. Motor vehicle crashes also declined in Luzerne County, decreasing by five percent from 2018 to 3,418. In both counties, the number of crashes was at the lowest level since 2015. The Commonwealth total also declined slightly, reaching 125,267 crashes. All three regions still recorded fewer crashes compared with the comparison year of 2000.

Statewide, the number of crashes resulting in injuries has fallen significantly, and the number resulting in fatalities fell to 990, the lowest level in the last five years. A larger number of crashes have resulted in property damage only. This trend extends to both counties as well. Between 2000 and 2019, the percentage of crashes involving only property damage (no injuries or fatalities) increased from about 40 percent to around 55 percent in both the region and statewide. The significant decline in crashes with fatalities and/or injuries is likely attributable in part to safety innovations in vehicles (though the number of fatalities in Luzerne County did increase in the last year, from 18 in 2018 to 30 in 2019).

In 2019, there were eight pedestrian crash deaths in the two counties combined, and 154 statewide. The two counties have ranged from six to ten pedestrian crash deaths per year for the years analyzed, with no clear upward or downward trend. The 42 pedestrian deaths since 2015 represent about five percent of all statewide pedestrian deaths in that period, though the region represents only about four percent of the Commonwealth’s total population.

Alcohol Related Crash Deaths

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Total Crash Deaths

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Pedestrian Crash Deaths

Source : Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Offenses Against Family & Children

Offenses against families and children include abuse of spouses and children, child neglect, and nonpayment of child support and alimony. Although there has been some fluctuation in the number of these offenses reported in the two counties, the total declined 18 percent in 2019 to 433 offenses combined.

In Lackawanna County, offenses against families and children dropped to 173 in 2019, after three previous years of consecutive increases. There was a similar trend in Luzerne County, with total offenses decreasing 17 percent to 260 following four years of steady increases in children and family offenses between 2015 and 2018. Statewide, the number of offenses declined for the first time since 2014. There has been an upward trend statewide since 2010, including a substantial increase in 2014. Total offenses across the Commonwealth have increased 89 percent since 2010.

Offenses Against Family & Children

Source : Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System.
*2019 figures are preliminary. 2018 figures have been updated.

Municipal Police Officers

Municipal police forces in the two counties employ over 1,100 officers as of early 2021. This accounts for about five percent of the statewide total, though in the two counties, there are a larger share of part-time officers compared to Pennsylvania as a whole. In Lackawanna and Luzerne, over 40 percent of municipal police officers are part-time, while the share is only about 18 percent statewide.

These municipal police statistics exclude personnel from several other law enforcement agencies that serve the region, including Pennsylvania State Police. In the two counties, 71 of 116 municipalities (61 percent) have their own municipal police force, while 15 (13 percent) contract with another municipality for police protection. Another 30 municipalities utilize State Police only.

Municipal Police Officers: 2021

Source: PA Department of Community & Economic Development

Full TimePart Time
Lackawanna277210
Luzerne383265
Pennsylvania18,4534,138

Pennsylvania Fire Departments

As of early 2020, there were 36 fire departments in Lackawanna County and 68 fire departments in Luzerne County. There were 3,666 active firefighters between the two counties. Approximately 86 percent of them were volunteers.

Pennsylvania Fire Departments: 2020

Source : U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Department Registry

School Safety

School safety incidents include a range of misconduct. A large share of incidents involved fights, disorderly conduct, minor altercations, other harassment or intimidation, bullying, and possession or use of tobacco or controlled substances. The number of reported incidents declined in both counties and statewide in the 2019-2020 school year, following a peak in activity across all three regions the previous year. In Lackawanna County, there were 625 documented school misconduct incidents and 823 in Luzerne County. This represents a 14-percent decrease from the previous year for Lackawanna County, and a 35-percent decrease for Luzerne County. Statewide, school misconduct incidents decreased by 21 percent.

School Misconduct Incidents per 1,000 Enrolled Students

Source : PA Department of Education Safe Schools

Juvenile Crime

Juvenile arrests shown here pertain to arrests made for several categories of crimes included in the Uniform Crime Report, such as violent crimes, liquor law, drug possession, and many others. Juvenile runaways are excluded.

In 2019, the number of juvenile arrests declined statewide and in both counties for a second consecutive year, although at a slower rate. Total arrests declined 16 percent in Lackawanna County to 433, while falling one percent in Luzerne County to 696. Statewide, juvenile arrests declined seven percent in 2019. Across all three regions, there has primarily been a downward trend in juvenile arrests since 2011, and reaching the lowest levels in a decade in 2019. Both counties have seen declines of over 40 percent compared with 2009, and the Commonwealth registered a 61-percent drop during that time.

Juvenile Arrests

Source : Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System