Public-police relationship more important than ever

“It is important to establish relationships early with these kids.”

Brandy Perchinski, a police officer with Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Department told the Sun-Gazette this at Tuesday’s National Night Out event in Jersey Shore.

A number of communities in our region participated in National Night Out, an annual opportunity for the public to meet police officers and other first responders. In Jersey Shore, children swam with police officers. At Williamsport Area Middle School, police officers talked with children about sports and school. Other agencies and organizations shared safety tips and activities.

It’s an important date for many reasons.

It provides our communities an opportunity to thank our first responders for their service and for the risks to their own lives they are willing to bear to keep us safe — in and of itself enough reason for the events.

It’s also beneficial for families to be reminded of what they can do to make their own homes and lives safer.

But, as Perchinski noted, it’s also a chance for police to build rapport with the public, to help dispel misperceptions and mistrust that unfortunately exist in some quarters.

An article by Spotlight PA in Wednesday’s edition of the Sun-Gazette reminds us all that this is an important goal as well.

The Spotlight PA article examined the difficulties police across the state face in solving unsolved homicides.

The reflections by family members of those lost to homicide are heart-breaking. While their compassion for each other is laudable, we must ask ourselves what we can do to improve our communities so these suffering families do not have to wait for closure and for justice.

It was not a surprise to see uncooperative witnesses listed as one factor hindering the identification and apprehension of suspects.

We all too often see that here in Lycoming County, with all manner of crimes.

It’s of course frustrating for our hard-working police. And it’s appallingly unfair to the victims of these crimes and their families.

We are thankful that police in Williamsport, in Jersey Shore and in other communities are going above and beyond to foster positive relationships with the public.

But now it must be the public’s turn. We must ask our neighbors who have information relevant to investigations — particularly of violent crimes and crimes that instill fear — to speak up, to share what they know with police and to help make our streets and our neighborhoods safer.


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