Fo­rum puts spot­light on law en­force­ment

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Fran Maye fmaye@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ken­nettpa­per on Twit­ter

KEN­NETT SQUARE >> Dan Maisano, a for­mer mag­is­te­rial dis­trict judge, rat­tled off the statis­tics at the first po­lice pub­lic safety fo­rum held Tues­day night: 129 po­lice of­fi­cers were killed in the line of duty last year and 738 civil­ians were shot by po­lice of­fi­cers.

“Our goal is that Ken­nett never be­comes a na­tional statis­tic about a fa­tal po­lice shoot­ing or a po­lice of­fi­cer shot in the line of duty, or even a story about ex­ces­sive use of force, “he told the 50 res­i­dents in at­ten­dance. It was mod­er­ated by Ken­nett Town­ship Po­lice Chief Ly­dell Nolt, Ken­nett Square Lt. Wil­liam Holdsworth and FBI spe­cial agent Charles Day­oub.

The fo­rum was es­tab­lished to forge a re­la­tion­ship be­tween law en­force­ment and the com­mu­nity with mu­tual re­spect, trust and co­op­er­a­tion. Res­i­dents were given the op­por­tu­nity to submit ques­tions on­line be­fore the meet­ing, and ask ques­tions dur­ing the meet­ing. One of the ques­tions dealt with the in­crease in res­i­den­tial bur­glar­ies. Nolt said these type of bur­glar­ies are frus­trat­ing to solve be­cause there is lit­tle to no as­so­ci­a­tion to the vic­tim. He urged res­i­dents to in­vest in alarm sys­tems.

“We live in a tech­nol­ogy era that has pro­vided sur­veil­lance sys­tems that are in­ex­pen­sive and have high­qual­ity cam­eras,” he said. “Cam­era sur­veil­lance sys­tems on your house are para­mount to help­ing pre­vent and to track down crim­i­nals.” An­other ques­tion dealt with sub­stance abuse by teens in house­holds. Nolt said a par­ent who re­ports their son or daugh­ter won’t get ar­rested, but it’s im­por­tant to re­port it. “If you know some­one in your fam­ily is deal­ing with sub­stance abuse, be proac­tive and go to the po­lice de­part­ment,” he said.

State Rep. Steve Bar­rar, R-160, who at­tended the meet­ing, said law­mak­ers are try­ing to fa­cil­i­tate ed­u­ca­tional drug abuse ini-

tia­tives. Bar­rar is up for re­elec­tion against In­de­pen­dent David Cleary.

The panel was asked about the le­gal­i­ties in­volv­ing door-to-door so­lic­i­ta­tion. Nolt and Holdsworth said so­lic­it­ing is not per­mit­ted in ei­ther Ken­nett Square or Ken­nett Town­ship with­out a per­mit. In Ken­nett Town­ship, a list of ap­proved solic­i­tors is on the town­ship’s web­site. All solic­i­tors get an ID card from the town­ship and the ID card must be shown upon re­quest. If the solic­i­tors do not show a per­mit ID card, po­lice should be no­ti­fied, Nolt said. Bar­rar re­minded the crowd that can­vass­ing, such as politi­cians seek­ing votes, is dif­fer­ent than so­lic­i­ta­tion and does not re­quire a per­mit.

An­other ques­tion dealt with the length of time it takes for an of­fi­cer to re­spond to a call. Nolt said all calls are placed on pri­or­ity, and there is no in­tent to de­lay.

An­other per­son wanted

to know why Ken­nett Town­ship pa­trol cars are of­ten seen in Ken­nett Square. Holdsworth said the bor­ough is sur­rounded on all sides by Ken­nett Town­ship, and of­ten town­ship po­lice must cross into Ken­nett Square to get quickly from one spot in the town­ship to an­other.

An­other res­i­dent wanted to know how he can avoid get­ting his car towed af­ter a snow­storm. Holdsworth said a full list of ev­ery street in the bor­ough that is in a snow emer­gency route is listed.

Of­fi­cials were also asked about how po­lice can im­prove the lan­guage bar­rier, be­cause Ken­nett Square has a large Latino pop­u­la­tion. Nolt said it is un­re­al­is­tic to re­quire of­fi­cers to speak mul­ti­ple lan­guages, and said pa­tience is im­por­tant. He said smart­phones that can trans­late lan­guages can help some­what.

An­other res­i­dent asked for ad­vice on a neigh­bor’s dog that got loose and is at­tack­ing chil­dren. Nolt said Penn­syl­va­nia has a dog law statute, and po­lice should be im­me­di­ately called if any­one is in dan­ger. He said

there are strict penal­ties for pet own­ers not con­fin­ing their dogs. He said a “rea­son­able amount of force” can be used on the dog to pro­tect adults or chil­dren.

An­other ques­tions dealt with political signs. Nolt said signs are per­mit­ted 30 days prior to elec­tion, and then must be re­moved im­me­di­ately af­ter the elec­tion. Signs that pro­hibit vi­sion at in­ter­sec­tions or cross­roads are re­moved im­me­di­ately by po­lice, he said.

One au­di­ence mem­ber asked about the pol­icy for record­ing po­lice ac­tiv­ity. Holdsworth said any res­i­dent can take video of po­lice as long as they don’t in­ter­fere with them do­ing their job.

An­other res­i­dent wanted to know the of­fi­cers’ thought on chil­dren walk­ing safely to the bus stop at 6:30 a.m. with­out street light­ing. Holdsworth said Ken­nett Square is well-lit, but Nolt said school direc­tors should be no­ti­fied of the prob­lem.

Day­oub said there has been more co­op­er­a­tion be­tween lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments and fed­eral of­fi­cials, es­pe­cially to counter ter­ror­ism,

pub­lic cor­rup­tion, or­ga­nized crime and whitecol­lar crime. He said there are pock­ets of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in Ch­ester, Delaware County, and in Coatesville, where fed­eral of­fi­cials are fo­cus­ing more re­sources.

“We are safer as a re­sult of in­for­ma­tion shar­ing,” Day­oub said. “There are still threats out there, and we have to be on top of it.”

Nolt said it’s im­por­tant for the com­mu­nity and po­lice to co­op­er­ate.

“It’s im­por­tant that the po­lice de­part­ment and the com­mu­nity take an ac­tive role in polic­ing the com­mu­nity,” Nolt said. “It’s the qual­ity of life is­sues that take a toll on the com­mu­nity – crimes like petty theft, pub­lic drunk­en­ness, open drug use and noise com­plaints. Things like this tear down the com­mu­nity and make res­i­dents want to leave.”

The pub­lic safety fo­rum is the first in what is ex­pected to be a se­ries of fo­rums that will take place sev­eral times a year at dif­fer­ent places. Fu­ture top­ics, Maisano said, could in­clude preda­tory be­hav­ior and scams.

FRAN MAYE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

About 50 peo­ple at­tended the first pub­lic safety meet­ing in Ken­nett Square Tues­day night. Pic­tured at the ta­ble, from left: Dan Maisano, re­tired dis­trict jus­tice; Ken­nett Square Po­lice Lt. Wil­liam T. Holdsworth; Ken­nett Town­ship Po­lice Chief Ly­dell E. Nolt; and FBI spe­cial agent Charles Day­oub.

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