Heroin battle plan worth pursuing – and needs to work

It’s not your imagination.

Local police and law enforcement officials acknowledged last week increased problems with heroin drug traffic and usage in the area and related increases in other crime numbers and violence in both Williamsport and surrounding communities in Lycoming County.

We would rather have those problems acknowledged than have public officials sweeping problems under the rug or hoping they would go away by being ignored.

Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt and Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana went very public with the problems last week.

Linhardt announced a three-point plan of attack:

36 surveillance cameras at strategic locations in Williamsport.

More frequent patrolling of Williamsport city parks.

Saturation patrol tactics conducted by multiple agencies.

Mayor Campana plans the re-emergence of a city police team known as the Special Operations Group, better use of manpower and technology to try to stop the rise of heroin and violence crime.

Cynics will roll their eyes and say this is lip service, that these problems can’t be stopped so don’t act like they can.

But there are significant elements that we like about these plans. Drug forfeiture money is being used to purchase the surveillance cameras that will be located in what police and law enforcement personnel have determined to be the drug traffic hot spots.

Forfeiture money will be used to pay overtime expenses for city police officers who are assigned to work park details.

And more officers will join city police and state police to perform the saturation patrols.

In other words, there is more punch behind this anti-drug and anti-violence campaign.

Beyond that, lip service and giving up are not options when it comes to fighting drug trafficking in the area. Police and law enforcement have to curb this problem. There is too much at stake in our communities for a half-hearted effort.

And, of course, as with any law enforcement effort, police need the public’s cooperation.

Linhardt said he wants to “restore peace and quiet to our communities.” That mission deserves everyone working as a team.