Below is a copy of a post sent to The Mercury in response to the article on last night’s community meeting at Invictus Ministries at 79 N. Hanover. Of course, it’s my opinion, but I’m also trying to be objective in my observations. There’s a lot of work to be done – essential work that greatly impacts the town’s entire future.
“Thank you so much to Bishop Everett Debnam for hosting and leading this effort. I hope this wasn’t a once-and-done meeting. It is only the first step – letting everyone blow off steam. In my opinion, the meeting did not move into a constructive, problem-solving mode. Realistically, that was probably not possible on the first go-round; you usually can’t skip steps when repairing or re-building relationships.
What came across: 1) There are long-standing problems with how the public perceives their police. 2) Law enforcement officials do need more citizen participation/witnesses, but almost seemed to be blaming the citizens & putting it all back on them. This is not the last we’re going to hear on these matters. Okay. Everyone needs to try to do better.
For me, key pieces of new information were: Local and Philly gangs have been feuding over drug-turf in town… since 2006! This year police cut foot patrols in the core neighborhoods. Shootings have escalated in the core throughout 2010. The police are re-instating the patrols in January 2011.
Okay. There’s no going back. It is what it is… unless I got that wrong.
This has to be a multi-stage process. The D.A. did say that as well. This is just the beginning. Relationships have to be built. Like most relationship problems, this one is rooted in communication. There need to be constructive, visible steps taken to improve communications & get results. My starter wishlist:
1) Put the tip line phone numbers on the home page of the PD’s website, not buried on other pages.
2) Put information about the “witness training” program, which was mentioned at the meeting, on the PD home page.
3) Release some meaningful crime statistics to the public now and follow-up on those statistics every quarter.
4) Borough: charge ahead on code enforcement!
5) Citizens: Introduce yourself to the officers on the beat in your neighborhood! Go to the Town Watch meetings EVERY 3rd Friday. Meeting this Friday, PAL building, 146 E. King Street, 7 pm.)
6) Schedule a follow-up meeting – maybe in 2 months at Invictus? Commit to building the relationship between citizens and law enforcement. It requires “face-time.” The monthly happy hours I’m hosting as part of economic revitalization efforts are built on the same premise. You can’t get things done as a team if you don’t know and trust your teammates. (All are invited to those, by the way. See website & rsvp.)
7) I personally would like to get donations and a motion sensor lighting program underway. A small step, but it’s something.