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Pa. neighbors banding together to fight crime

May 09, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Volunteers for a proposed Neighborhood Watch in the borough's Third Ward will learn details of the program at a community meeting tonight in the Chambersburg Recreation Center, 235 S. Third St.

"I'm sorry it takes two people being killed in the process to get this done," said Robin Thomas, 422 S. Main St., who has volunteered to be a block captain.

Thomas was referring to the fatal shootings of Charles Green, 22, in 1997, and Drake Luckett, 34, on March 1. Both occurred near her home.

"I have a business and I have a family and I want to make sure my community is safe," said Thomas, who runs a day care center. During the 15 years she has lived in the Third Ward, Thomas said she has kept her eye on the neighborhood.

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"If I have seen any kind of trouble ... I was always one to call the police," she said Sunday.

Some neighbors don't report crimes because they are afraid of retaliation from gangs, she said.

The Rev. W. Larry Johnson, Third Ward councilman, said he has lined up three block captains and is looking for more volunteers to patrol South Main Street between Liberty Street and Industrial Drive, the housing project to the west and other streets where drug activity and violence have left law-abiding residents in fear.

"The police are doing a good job, but the people just want something more," Johnson said Sunday. "We're not leaving the area to fend for itself any longer."

Johnson said a borough police officer with training in Neighborhood Watch programs will be at the 6:30 p.m. meeting.

Support for the Neighborhood Watch may not be widespread, "but we feel it's imperative to move on with what we have," Johnson said.

Thomas and Johnson both said support for anti-crime measures in the ward have ebbed and flowed over the years. Johnson said he hopes the momentum of community concern over the fatal shooting of Luckett at Dave's Tavern, 401 S. Main St., will be maintained.

While Johnson did not file to run for a third term on the council, Thomas's husband, Scott, is a write-in candidate for the Third Ward Democratic nomination in the May 18 primary.

Luckett was shot in the chest as he left the bar. Borough police have charged Timothy J. Ross, 25, of 280 Miller St., with criminal homicide.

"There's a lot of positives that can come out of it besides keeping an eye on the community," Johnson said.

He envisions a program that includes cleaning up and beautifying the community and block parties to help bring neighbors closer together.  

Thomas said her 12-year-old daughter deserves a better neighborhood. "She's seen things she has no business seeing."

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