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Chambersburg walks for safety

August 06, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Lisa Johnson walked Tuesday night for the future of her children.

"I want to try to help change things, even if it's one small thing, so my kids can be safe out on the street," said Johnson of King Street, the mother of two.

Johnson and nearly 40 other Chambersburg residents, borough officials and police met at the Franklin County Housing Authority Community Center on West Washington Street at 7:15 p.m. as part of the police department's fifth annual National Night Out.

The group walked through the south end of town, their pace quickening as a thunderstorm approached, as a way to bring the community and police together, strengthen neighborhood spirit, and heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, according to Corp. Richard Swartz of the Chambersburg Police Department.

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"It's to bring the community and the police together to show support for anti-crime and drug efforts," Swartz said.

The walk is one way to encourage people to mingle with their neighbors and to "get out and take over the neighborhood" instead of feeling like prisoners in their homes, said Bernard Washabaugh, council president.

Borough Manager Eric Oyer said the walk is also a way for elected and appointed officials to show their support for the police department and to promote their efforts to have safer and more peaceful neighborhoods.

Members of Laurel Lodge Number 133 IBPOE of W led the walk this year because there is a need to show residents that they are responsible for their community, said Scott Thomas, secretary of the fraternal organization.

"We need to show people that this is their community, these are their streets and it can be a safe place for everybody," Thomas said.

The group took shelter from the rain in the nearby John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, where the Rev. Leroy Blair led a prayer and commended the group for its efforts.

"The concept is good, it's excellent," Blair said after the group proceeded up the street. "It does show that the organizations have a great concern for the well-being, the welfare, of the youth and the community."

Yolanda Coy said she joined the walkers for the first time this year to see what's going on in the community and to show her support for the "beefed up" police protection.

"If it helps to eliminate crime then I'm all for it," Coy said.

The walk was sponsored locally by Chambersburg Police, the county Housing Authority and the Laurel Lodge.

National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, was started 14 years ago as a crime and drug prevention event.

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