In Highspire and Steelton private citizens are banding together to patrol their towns.
Police say they appreciate the extra set of eyes.
By Debra Schell
Press And Journal Staff
It was about 90 degrees last Wednesday evening but the high temperatures didn’t stop Joyce Ohler and Jacob Stayer from taking a walk through Highspire wearing flashy yellow and orange vests.
They aren’t worried about getting hit by a car, but they are out searching for problems in the neighborhood.
Ohler and Stayer are one of about 50 people who have signed up with Highspire Community Watch Group.
The group, started by Bill Mortimore in 2007, meets once a month to discuss problems in Highspire, including crime and vandalism.
Low attendance at meetings is not holding back the group, said Ohler.
She will continue to patrol the streets on Mondays and Wednesdays searching for unfamiliar cars, as well as anyone who looks out of place.
The group meets at 7 p.m. on the last Monday every other month at the Highspire Borough building. But in the summer, it meets monthly.
Crime increases in the summer months, said Highspire Police Chief John McHale. People are more on edge in the hot weather, he said.
To get more community members involved in the group, they will again host the borough’s third National Night Out on Aug. 2 at Memorial Park.
The event will offer residents hot dogs and information about the group.
Local law enforcement and fire fighters will be available to provide the community with information.
“The group is a link between the community and police,” said Highspire Patrolman Jeffery LeVan, the group’s liaison with the department.
LeVan, who attends the group’s meetings when possible, said the group plays a pivotal roll in crime prevention.
LeVan wants the community to get more involved in crime fighting, he said.
“They are doing their job, but I figured that we could help them [Highspire Police Officers],” said Mortimore.
Extra eyes helpful
Small police forces are glad to have an extra pair of eyes on the streets, said Steelton Borough Police Chief Scott Spangler.
Spangler said that with kids being out of school for the summer, the department sees an increase in vandalism and juvenile crimes.
“We also like to teach residents how to keep their own property safer,” he said.
Steelton Community Watch has seen a decrease in active members, he said. The group, which has about eight members, meets the first Tuesday of each month in the Steelton Borough Council chambers at 6 p.m.
Started more than 10 years ago by former police chief Kenneth Lenker, the group has participated in marches, block parties, and National Night Out each year.
“We need to get more people involved,” said Pauline Douglas, of Steelton, who has been a member of the group since the beginning.
“It takes people to do things, and with only a few people, we can’t do it all,” said Douglas.
More than 20 citizens used to volunteer with the group, she said.
“But like everything else, it drops off,” she said.
Debra Schell: 717-944-4628, or firstname.lastname@example.org