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Clairton to resume residential safety checks

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 5:01 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Clairton police officers Sgt. Bob Ferry and Sgt. Jim Carozza inspects the doors and windows of Wandra Sparks' home as part of a saftey check initiative.

Clairton police plan to reinstate a home safety initiative.

Starting May 1, officers will meet with residents at their homes, by appointment, to check the security of access points.

“We'll do checks as simple as making sure locks on windows work and providing any information that we can to better secure their residences,” police Chief Rob Hoffman said. “We basically have a checklist that we'll go by ... as well as help the residents feel more comfortable inside their homes.

“There's nothing that really prompted this program. We haven't done it in a while. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide any funding to fix any items that need to be secured. We can be suggestive on what needs to be done.”

Hoffman said residents can sign up for the program by calling 412-233-6213.

“It will run until we complete the list,” the chief said.

Senior citizens will be given priority.

Hoffman believes the program will be well received.

“We conducted this about five years ago with success,” Hoffman said. “The officers had an opportunity to meet with some of the residents, talk about some of their concerns and safety issues. The officers were able to give suggestions on how to better secure (their homes). ... We checked about 40 different residences. I remember making numerous suggestions to better secure their residences.

“I think it will be a positive. I believe people will take advantage of the program. We will call upon the assistance of the fire department if there's any type of issues regarding smoke detectors, or if (residents) have any questions that would be out of our realm.”

But some residents are skeptical.

“I think in a way it could (help) 'cause a lot of people's homes (aren't) properly sealed like mine,” resident Laura Crouch said. “If they really (want to) get in they will find a way, like just breaking the window. I rent, but I know my landlord wouldn't mind (a police check). I'd be for it.”

“I am not sure this could make it a safe place since most of the crimes have little to do with these sorts of safety issues,” resident Peggy Sedor Bayer said. “Not sure if I would sign up or not. I am more afraid of the drive-by shootings, shootings at public places, random fires, than I am about house break-ins. Of course I care about that, but it doesn't seem to be the biggest threat in town, and it seems a waste of time for the real issues here regarding safety.”

“I don't think this will help those who have lived here for a long time,” resident Mary Lou Alfonsi said. “It may help those new to the city. I won't sign up for it.”

Councilman Richard Ford said Hoffman spoke about the program at a recent council meeting and would like it expanded.

“If people are volunteering for police to come check the locks and things, it's a good idea,” Ford said. “It helps the people to be secure. I'm confident that our chief and police department will be doing that. Maybe there's a program where we can talk to one of the stores so they can give them a good deal on locks and stuff. I don't want (officers) to just tell (residents their locks are) bad and go fix it.”

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965 or