Friday, August 28, 2009

Results of Last Night's Safety Committee Meeting

Thanks to all who attending last night's Safety Committee Meeting with Lt. Remaley of the EPD--we had 30 people turn out and we filled up the room!

Last night's meeting was productive and particularly encouraging because residents got an opportunity to see how seriously Lt. Remaley takes his role as Community Liaison Officer and how genuinely concerned he is about repairing resident trust in the EPD that was damaged years ago by the actions of many officers who were either fired, or left the force a few years back.  We also figured out when it's better to call, and when it's better to email the EPD to reduce unnecessary call volume for our officers so that they free to respond to immediate situations:

  • It is better to call, whenever anything you see is in progress--this includes violence, drug deals, and prostitution, but also nuisance crimes like disorderly conduct, noise complaints and loitering
  • It is better to email whenever you are passing on important information for activity that is not in progress, i.e., license plate numbers and descriptions of cars and people that you have seen involved in drug dealing, addresses of houses where you feel pretty sure illegal activity is taking place
We also learned from Terrence Miller, former Chairman of the Anti-Gang Task Force, some interesting things about gangs. In addition to his work with the Anti-Gang Task Force, Terrence and his wife Theresa engage in youth outreach under a faith-based organization they started called Hope Unseen.  Terrence cited statistics explaining that only 1 out of every 4 gang members is a felon, and that for many, joining a gang is really a means of finding a sense of family, and protection from members of other gangs--many of these kids are reachable if a community encourages them in healthy directions, rather than automatically rejecting them.

Terrence introduced residents to programs in Greensboro, N. C., Providence, R.I., and Boston, among others, where comprehensive strategic plans involving the community at large have successfully reduced crime by 40% within 6 months of implementation, the key being that the strategies are progressive and multi-faceted, a departure from the enforcement-only model that is not working for us today, as it puts far too much strain on the police department and overcrowds jails, resulting in expansion of the jail in the middle of our neighborhood.  Terrence and Lt. Remaley both agreed that we will never be able to arrest our way out of an open-air drug market problem. Since both Terrence and Lt. Remaley have worked closely together and even flew down to North Carolina together to see the Greensboro plan in action, they both have seen first-hand the difference such a comprehensive plan can make, but it requires a committed, collective will from residents to succeed.

To sum it up:
  • Residents expressed great interest in the development of a comprehensive strategic plan to significantly reduce open-air drug markets.
  • We found out other cities have overcome similar challenges to those facing our neighborhood, and significantly reduced crime.  Components of these successful plans can be adapted to Easton's size and scope.
  • We have action items--We will attend the next City Council meeting to express our desire to adopt a comprehensive strategic plan, to be developed by residents. Eventually we will invite stakeholders, i.e., elected officials, community organizations, faith-based organizations, etc. to a forum to present the process by which a strategy like this is created--Terrence will advise on this and says a successful adaptation of these types of programs must involve an inclusive process and takes time, research and public education to develop.
  • We realize the process must be nonpolitical and nonpartisan
Please mark your calendars for our next City Council Meeting on Sept. 9th at 6pm at City Hall, where we will bring up our intent to develop a comprehensive during the Citizens Right To Be Heard portion at the end of the meeting!

Our first step is a simple one--to make the Sept. 9th City Council meeting a priority, and let council know that we are working on a comprehensive plan and want them to be on board.

Thanks again to everyone who came--it was a great group and really nice to see so many new faces! Below are links to the the web site for the City of Greensboro, and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (click on the ODJJP Model once you're in) so that you can read up on various components of successful plans of this nature:


noel jones said...

If we get as many people out to the City Council meeting as we got last night, we will definitely be heard loud and clear on this one : )

Anonymous said...


Hi Noel
I was happy to hear the report of the Safety Meeting and wish my schedule would have permitted me to be there.

As we are in then process of revamping the Mayor's Anti Gang Task Force I would like to invite up to three WW residents to be on the task force. The WWNP is already represented by Gary Bertsch.

I met with Jim Tice this past week and we are looking to use the new school year as a springboard to get someone to represent the EASD. We have not had any representation for several months. We also have representatives from all social service agencies, the county, District Attorney's office, Juvenile probation, churches, etc.

It looks like the next meeting is going to be September 8th at 3:00 in the Mayor's conference room. I will let you know on Monday the exact date and time.

Thanks again for your interst in making Easton Clean and Safe.

noel jones said...

Thank you, Mayor--I will put my ear to the ground for possible candidates. It was really great to see how many residents came out united in this concern.

noel jones said...

I have heard from two residents potentially interested in taking up the Mayor's offer to join the Anti-Gang Task force. If anyone else is interested, please let me know!

hopeunseen said...

It was humbling to be in attendance with so many passionate and committed neighbors who are stepping up to the plate to provoke a difference in our great city.

As we chewed on and then concluded, our focus is primarily on open air drug markets of which gangs represent only a portion.

Our objectives fold gangs into the broader goal of drug market intervention through building a comprehensive strategic plan driven by multiple community stakeholders.

Let's continue to move forward as the public has raised its voice for change and overwhelmingly applaud the creation & implementation of a community-driven strategic plan.

Glad to hear Mayor that you are reorganizing the AGTF. It can certainly enhance the residents and the supportive community organizations strategic goal as we forge ahead.

noel jones said...

Yes, it's important to note here that the Anti-Gang Task Force, while a good thing, and a good opportunity for residents to learn more about both gangs and enforcement methods, is a part of an already existing strategy of an arrests-only approach to reducing open-air drug markets. One thing we all agreed on in our resident meeting is that the enforcement-only method has not been working in Easton over the years. In Greensboro's HOPE Project model and the Boston 10-Point Program, enforcement is just one important part of a much more over-arching strategy that incorporates and activates outreach from all over a community that recognizes things will only change when we are no longer just in it for ourselves, that we are part of a neighborhood fabric. These methods succeeded because they were absolutely community -driven, nonpolitical and nonpartisan. In addition to enforcement and the efforts of local nonprofits and faith-based orgs, the Greensboro program had a large group of resident volunteers as an integral part of their program. Easton is smaller than Greensboro, so a similar effort is absolutely possible here--especially with the resident response that we've had. If we can reduce open-air drug markets 40% in 6 months as Greensboro has (and they've maintained it for 4 years) then it's not just worth a try, it's absolutely do-able. Just imagine what a difference in our quality of life that would be--and how quickly we could see the results!

Dennis R. Lieb said...

For those who are wondering...Jim Tice is the Liason for the Easton Weed and Seed Program and works for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). At least he did when I was involved.

Here is a link to the department for anyone who wants to check up on them:


noel jones said...

Thanks, Dennis.

celticwarrior said...

yes it was nice to see 30 of the same faces in one lets list what organization they belong to what comity and who is left three or four or none.where were allthe mom and dads and kids that these gangs target.were are the business owners that we were afraid to scare.

Anonymous said...

Laura Accetta
Correction Dennis. Jim Tice no longer works for the Pa Commission on Crime and Delinquency. He is now a contractor for the US Dept. of Justice United States Attorneys Office. Easton's Weed and Seed program will be applying for Federal Weed and Seed status in December of this year. Jim Tice will be the Federal liasion if we are granted Federal status. The amount of money that would bring in could be very useful in implementing a community driven strategic plan. Easton's Weed and Seed program was recently chosen (one of 4 PA sites)to replicate the National Comprehensive Center for Fathers Program (in part due to our high recidivism rate). This recidivism reduction program has already been successfully replicated in Camden and Newark NJ. Our target will be 100 men who wish to restructure their character, gain full time employment, reunite with their children/family and become productive citizens. It is an exciting opportunity for Easton as it is an amazingly successful fraternity program.

noel jones said...

celtic warrior, were you at the meeting? As far as I could tell, there were two Weed & Seed organizers, one organizer from the WWNP (who was there as a WW resident) and Lt. Remaley from the EPD. I counted 34 people total, which is why I reported 30 residents in attendance. Many of us were there for the first time (including myself) because Lt. Remaley invited us via a message that I posted to the blog. There were several new faces there--Lt. Remaley even commented on that--not "the same faces" as you say, and several people came up to me afterward to say it was their first time coming out. I'm not sure what you would have invested in disparaging citizens who cared enough to come out to make a difference, and I'm not even sure you were there, otherwise you would have seen something different than what you've said here.

Don't you want to see the neighborhood solve its problems and revitalize? I am forever confused by negative comments that some people tend to post to online media forms--whether online papers or blogs--that almost seem to WANT the neighborhood to fail--as if that will justify their own lack of trying. I think everyone has had enough with the apathy and cynicism and residents are starting to realize that if they want the neighborhood to improve, they can't sit back and wait for someone else to do it anymore, because that clearly hasn't worked. There has been a very small group of old-timers here (long before I ever arrived) that have been carrying the torch and shouldering the work for a very long time. It's about time they had some fresh, positive support, and they are finally getting it. I am totally psyched that 30 residents made it a priority to come out. Hopefully more WW residents soon will start making City Council meetings and voting in local elections a priority so that our political voice as a neighborhood will gain strength and revitalization of the neighborhood will come all the faster.

Complaining will get us nowhere, but ACTION will. Just coming out and being counted is a really important contribution, and when people speak up, ask questions, express concerns, demand answers, and then take what they learned from that experience to the POLLS, we have what is needed to actually bring about the change we're after. No one is going to GIVE us anything. We have to pull together and make it happen ourselves.

Complainers are detractors, and it's important to ask yourself, why on earth you would want to detract from a revitalization effort. You are either part of the solution (apathy, cynicism, complaining without action) or part of the problem. All anyone has to do to help is to start coming out to be counted, and then take it from there.

Anonymous said...

Re: City Council support. At this point - what would support from Council look like?- Just asking this question so as to clarify what our objective(s) truly is/are. Is it simply to inform Council of an intent? Unless they make some kind of motion it can't be assumed that there is going to be support. Which may be okay at this point. Another objective may be to field possible objections.