Police coverage letter fails to draw large response in Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN

A letter distributed to downtown merchants Nov. 29 did not result in a significant turnout at the Greencastle Borough Council meeting Dec. 6, though that was the intent of the message. With the topic 'police coverage', the memorandum, signed by the Greencastle Downtown Revitalization Committee, asked that a representative from each business attend the meeting to request and appreciate the visibility of police foot patrols on the streets.

"You are requested to announce yourself, name and location of your business and that you support the above," stated the letter. "This will be done at the beginning of the meeting and you should be out within 15 to 20 minutes."

Because at least one business owner was confused about the legitimacy of the committee and the people behind the directions, the Echo Pilot contacted several members of the committee about the purpose of the letter. The subject of police coverage had not been discussed at any meeting, each of them said.

"It doesn't ring any bells with me," said one man. "I've never heard that's a major concern."

Another member was surprised and bothered that the letter was signed by the committee, but he knew nothing about it. A third thought it was inappropriate for a council member to initiate that kind of action.

H. Duane Kinzer, a member of borough council, acknowledged after the meeting that he had written the letter. As chairman of the Revitalization Committee, he said he had not had a chance to call a meeting. He had broached the topic of additional foot patrol at previous council meetings and gotten no commitment from the police department or mayor, who oversaw the department. Kinzer wanted one hour of each 12-hour shift devoted to an officer walking throughout the downtown. He had planned that committee members would attend in support as well, but had not had time to notify them. The board also consisted of Paul Politis, Brian Hissong, Sam Tamburro, Sharon Rupenthal, Carissa Martin, Verna Barnhart, Susan Horst, Joel Fridgen, Marissa Burt, Ken Womack and Robert Eberly.

Three citizens did speak during public comment. Bill Little, owner of three buildings on South Carlisle Street, said he was satisfied with the level of public safety and service of the Greencastle Police Department. "This has created a lot of controversy," he said. "I'm tired of hearing it."

He was pleased that police noticed when his business door was inadvertently left unlocked, and even more enthusiastic when they caught thieves in the act in one of his rental units. He suggested the police be allowed to work where they saw priorities.

Sandy Spaulding, a business owner on South Carlisle Street, said police did an adequate job of checking in at stores. She urged police, merchants and citizens to work together and not pass blame on to each other.

They also had other concerns. Little said as a fire policeman, he was almost hit in a crosswalk during Old Home Week. He credited the police with charging the driver, who had been on a cell phone. Spaulding concurred. "The crosswalks scare me."

Wade Burkholder, homeowner on East Baltimore Street, invited the police to park in his driveway to catch speeders racing up the hill.