Councilman reflects on police ride-alongs

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Greencastle Borough Councilman Larry Faight recently did two police ride-alongs. Here is some of what he wrote in an email to Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. and Police Chief John Phillippy in a June 25 email that was shared by the mayor at last week's council meeting:

Several months ago council was offered the opportunity to conduct a ride-along with the police officers of Greencastle and as you know I jumped on that opportunity. I would like to share with you my experience from the ride-along as my well my perspective as a resident regarding our department and my perspectives as a council member.

My first ride was two weeks ago Saturday. I jumped on patrol at 8 p.m. with Officer (Preston) Strayer. Officer Strayer began my trip with the sign-off document and the many rules that are placed for a person on a ride-along. One rule struck me hard and that was, should Officer Strayer become engaged with someone I was to remain in the vehicle even if it was a fatal altercation and under no circumstances should I leave the unit. This surfaced in my thoughts many times through the shift, especially when the second officer had completed his shift and now Officer Strayer is on his own. We kept busy with calls as well as some events that were seen and investigated while driving the borough streets. We only stopped at the office for a brief time to do some paperwork then back to the streets. I stayed with Officer Strayer until 3 a.m. 

My second ride was this past weekend, again with Officer Strayer. This week we were accompanied by a second officer. We had a slightly less eventful evening, but maintained the street patrol as I experienced the prior ride.

The experience left me with a great deal of ease as a resident knowing that our men are on the streets.

As a council member I realized that we have a department that is dedicated to this borough's residents. The department is compassionate when it is warranted and forceful when necessary, but at all times fair, just and unbiased.

At one point Officer Strayer mentioned that things were quiet on the streets and he was right it was quiet, not because the department was not carrying out their duties but just the opposite — the community knows they are out there and their presence is known as well.

I can remember someone stating that our police department should be writing more citations. Why? If our department is not writing citations and/or taking individuals off to jail, then they show their worth. The safety of this community should not and cannot be judged by the number of citations, but by the quiet community, the minimal criminal behavior and getting drugs off the streets, which this department has done and will continue to do for all residents and those who visit our area.

The department's role in this community should never waver and, most certainly, should be respected.