The task force will include three officers at any one time, drawing from uniform patrol and detectives on a rotation. The officers will be deployed on the street during the 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift and from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., according to Fitzpatrick. He noted that most of the robberies happened between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Officers assigned to the task force will be using a “park and walk” strategy in target areas, so police can interact with citizens and also confront potential robbery suspects.
“They’re going to be walking where they’re visible, the chief said. “We’re going to do field encounters, checking out people walking around the neighborhood,” he said.
The initial focus will be on the north part of the city, where most of the robberies have occurred.
Rivera said he and his neighborhood liaison Wendy Luzon will be walking the Park and Lawrence streets area this weekend, handing out flyers that offer tips to citizens and business owners about how to protect themselves from robberies.
“We’re not trying to alarm anyone, we’re just trying to inform people,” Rivera said.
“People need to be aware of their surroundings, and there are some things they can do to protect themselves. Most of these things are happening late at night when people should be home any way,” he said.
Police are discouraging residents from walking alone after dark and holding valuable items like smart phones in plain view. Most of the items robbed are cell phones, according to police.
The Police Department activated a special hotline 978-794-5900 X643 yesterday that citizens can call to report information that might help police in their crackdown on robberies.
As part of the initiative, the Lawrence Public Schools will use school resource officers to educate students on crime prevention strategies.