City hot-button issues need second look and calm rethinking

Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana is doubling down and saying the basketball hoops at Memorial Park are down for good.

City Council members and citizens are wondering why the four cameras at the park weren’t more helpful in detecting vandalism at the park, given that the city spent about a half million dollars on a surveillance camera system.

And at least some councilmen are “uneasy” about private citizens accompanying police on codes expeditions.

Those are the developments of the past couple weeks on the City of Williamsport’s hot-button issues related to crime and codes problems.

It feels like we are in the “digging in our heels” phase on all these issues.

And that’s unfortunate, but it’s what happens when people become emotionally married to ideas. It happens in Washington.

It happens in Harrisburg.

Why wouldn’t it happen in Williamsport?

Mayor Campana has announced a variety of supervised, family-oriented activities for Memorial Park, including plans for a football team. He also is working on reopening courts at Flanigan Park, where a basketball tournament is being planned for June.

We don’t doubt the intentions.

But we doubt whether taking down basketball hoops is going to prevent crime in Memorial Park, especially if the cameras there aren’t detecting crime as was hoped.

The surveillance system needs to be given a hard look to see if it’s doing what the city paid for it to do.

And city public safety officials should look into what can be done to bolster the numbers of cameras by doing what State College has done, which includes still cameras at a cheaper rate.

More eyes on the streets never hurts.

But private citizens on police and codes raids is a definite no-no in our view.

Instead, the momentum of a phenomena like Team Williamsport should be used to inject fresh energy into existing organizations, such as the Lycoming County Heroin Task Force and the Neighborhood Crime Watch groups.

We don’t need groups splintering when their goals are similar.

We need them mobilizing behind proven entities and reasoned approaches.