Forum puts spotlight on law enforcement
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.
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.