SMETHPORT — Former Smethport resident William “Jory” Lake, a top official with the Allentown Police Department, planned to spend his scheduled three-days off over the July 4 weekend with his family.
Lake, who has served as interim assistant chief of operations since February, in addition to his duties as captain of the Investigative Division, and his family enjoyed spending time together on July 3 and 4 and planned to do some things around the house on July 5.
But, those in law enforcement are never really “off duty,” and Lake’s plans changed with a phone call Sunday, July 5. “I received a call from our communications center at about 4:30 a.m. with a report that we had a double homicide,” said Lake. “That’s how my day began, and it didn’t end until about 9 p.m. when I decided to send all of the investigators home to get some rest. We had made significant progress with our investigation during the first 16-plus hours.”
The lead detective had interviewed a witness on scene who reported seeing a white vehicle leaving the area just after the shooting. The vehicle’s description was broadcast to all officers in and around Allentown. Lake said, “By 8 a.m., one of our officers had found a white Mercedes SUV fitting the description and having fresh signs of damage. A closer look at this vehicle that was located about a half-block away from police headquarters revealed that the ignition had been tampered with and that there was a box of .38-caliber ammunition in the rear passenger compartment. Both of these things were observed in plain view by looking through the vehicle windows.”
Later, the Allentown Police Department learned the neighboring Easton Police Department had experienced both a homicide and another shooting incident shortly before Allentown’s double homicide.
“They had identified a white Mercedes SUV as a possible suspect vehicle in both of their incidents,” Lake told The Era. “Once they learned we had located a white Mercedes SUV possibly related to our incident, they sent investigators to Allentown and we worked together.”
A search warrant was obtained.
During such incidents, Lake’s role is to oversee the investigation and coordinate resources within the Allentown PD so that officers have the necessary materials to accomplish the task at hand. Speaking of past experiences, Lake said, “I have worked with many supervisors over the years in different capacities, and I always respected the bosses who were out there doing the job alongside of me. Thus, I feel it’s very important for me to be there, especially when we’re faced with a significant incident, such as a homicide.”
Lake was back in the office early Monday morning — the start of a 16-hour day — meeting with the investigating detectives. By late that evening, July 6, three men were in custody for the double homicide, and two of them were charged with three pedestrian robberies that occurred earlier in Allentown. Charges from Easton would come later the following day. By the end of the week, New Jersey authorities added even more charges against the alleged shooter for a non-fatal shooting on June 25.
“Our success is due to the team effort put forth by several agencies, working together, including the Allentown, Easton PDs. Lehigh County Coroner’s Office, Lehigh and Northampton County district attorneys and the staff of the Union County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office,” Lake said. “In addition, I want to point out that our department is blessed to have some very talented investigators and motivated officers.
“I’m very proud to be an Allentown police officer and very grateful to have worked alongside the men and women of this department.”
Lake’s father, Bill, and stepmother, Linda, still reside in Smethport.
Being in law enforcement, Captain Lake is accustomed to long hours on the job. He said, “Growing up in Smethport, I saw my dad put long hours and work hard. In fact, he’s in his 70s and generally puts in more than eight hours every day at work. I guess I inherited his work ethic.”
Too, the younger Lake is no stranger to responding to emergency calls in the middle of the night as he has been a member of the Smethport Fire Department and the department in Mansfield during his college years. “I still belong to the Smethport Fire Department, which I joined when I was 16, and on occasion make a call when I’m home,” he said.
Lake graduated from Smethport Area-Junior-Senior High School in 1990. He continued his education at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice administration in 1994.
That same year, he joined the U.S. Army Reserves. After completing basic training and advanced infantry training in the spring of 1995, he was assigned to the 320th Military Police Battalion at Ashley, Luzerne County. His original job in the Reserves was a supply specialist and later trained as an MP.
Following a stint working for the loss prevention department at the Sears store at the Lycoming Mall, Lake transferred to the Sears store Frackville, Schuylkill County, where he was the loss prevention manager.
When police departments are recruiting, many new officers already have experience in the military or security services. Lake was no exception.
In 1998, he was hired by the Pottsville Police Department and was immediately sent to the Allentown Police Academy for his Act 120 municipal police officer training. Upon graduation, Lake worked with the Pottsville department until September 1998, when he joined the Allentown Police Department .
“I was hired as a patrolman and assigned to the First Platoon, where I remained until January 2002,” Lake said. “I worked a six days on and two off schedule, swinging shifts from days, middles and nights.”
By 2002, when the department adopted a new schedule, Lake moved to the Fourth Platoon, which was steady nights.
Approximately three years later, in November 2006, Lake transferred to the Detective Bureau. “I worked a variety of cases as a detective, including several homicides, robberies and burglaries,” he said.
Advancements in the department came rapidly for Lake. In 2008, he was promoted to sergeant and supervised a team of detectives.
In January 2014, when he made captain, he became head of the Investigative Services Division, which includes the Detective Bureau, Vice and Intelligence Unit, Youth Division, Identification Bureau, Warrant Squad, and Special Victims Unit. About 70 sworn and unsworn personnel work in these sections.
In his present job as interim assistant police chief of operations, he oversees all department functions, including the Patrol Division and Investigative Services Divisions - about 200 sworn and unsworn personnel.
As an Allentown policeman, Lake has received nine commendations: two for bravery, four for merit and three for achievement.
Lake credits his experiences growing up in Smethport for building the foundation of his current success. “I have lived in many places over the years,” he noted, “but I still consider Smethport my home.”
Allentown, the state’s third largest city with a population of about 118,000, has a police department has about 210 sworn officers. The department’s structure includes the chief and two assistant chiefs.
Like many of today’s new generation of policemen, Lake is family-oriented. He said, “I enjoy my work, so the long hours don’t bother me most of the time, although I hate to miss our two young sons’ baseball games and their other events,” My wife is very understanding and deserves a lot of credit putting up with my hectic schedule and the situations that arise, requiring me to go into work early and stay late.”