A project credited with deterring criminal activity in a York City neighborhood has earned the city a prestigious award.

Last week, at a ceremony in Philadelphia, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recognized York as a semi-finalist for the Webber Seavey award for excellence in policing.

York received the recognition for its Gates for Good project, an effort that has placed about 300 wrought-iron gates in the breezeways of the city's Salem Square neighborhood.

The gates - which make it tougher for criminals to deal drugs, elude police or store guns in the narrow spaces between homes - have cut crime by 22 percent in the neighborhood, Police Chief Wes Kahley said.

"Criminals look for opportunity," Kahley said.

Chief Wes Kahley held a press conference Monday with Gates for Good volunteers.
Chief Wes Kahley held a press conference Monday with Gates for Good volunteers. (Erin James)
"And if you have a secure property, it takes some of that opportunity away."

The project couldn't have been successful without the administrative, financial and construction help from the city's partners, Kahley said.

Those groups include the Women's Giving Circle, Kinsley Construction, York Builders Association, Habitat for Humanity and the Salem Square Neighborhood Association.

"It truly is a partnership of many," Kahley said.

Soon, he said, the city will announce details of a planned expansion of the gates project into a neighborhood in the city's northeast section, to include the area between North Queen and North Broad streets and East Philadelphia and Chestnut streets.

"My goal is to eventually have them all over the city," Kahley said.

- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.