Councilman lobbies for police station safe haven

Shawn Hardy
Greencastle Borough Councilman Duane Kinzer wants a safe place for people to go 24/7 at the police station on North Washington Street. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Greencastle Councilman Duane Kinzer believes Greencastle needs a safe haven at the police station.

He's worked on the concept with the police chief for the last two years, but it keeps getting cut out of the budget. It is back on the table this year.

Steve Miller, council president, asked Kinzer to provide a safe haven description. Miller forwarded it to various committees to consider then discuss at the October council meeting. It could be included in the budget if "it all comes together and everyone agrees," Miller said.

Kinzer said the safe haven would be a place for people to go if they felt they were being followed or threatened or had an emergency. It would have steel reinforced door that they could lock, would be open 24/7 and would include a phone they could use to contact a Greencastle police officer or 911.

"I  do think it has value, however my requests have in the past gone unfunded," said Police Chief John Phillippy. "We have a significant amount of walk-in traffic to our police department and we have had victims followed to the police department. While I can’t give an example of a specific time where a victim was harmed prior to the arrival of police, the goal would be to prevent such harm."

Kinzer said he has encountered a couple of situations where someone had a scare, but the door to the police department was locked because the officer on duty was not at the station.

"If an officer is out, he could be notified there is someone who needs assistance," Kinzer said.

For example, Kinzer was leaving church a few weeks ago and there was a young man coming through yards looking for the police station because there was a gentleman at the playground acting weird and upsetting the kids playing basketball. Kinzer called dispatch to connect the young man with a police officer.

Kinzer said he would leave the specifics of the safe haven design up to the chief.

"I would hope that such a set up could be incorporated into our existing lobby with some upgrades," Phillippy said.