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Munhall resident at odds with borough police

| Friday, Dec. 30, 2011

Munhall and the surrounding Steel Valley have no shortage of Facebook pages and websites reporting crime and other activities.

Some comments between Munhall resident Larry Rettger`s Perry Street Crime Watch and the borough police department`s Munhall Crime Watch became a topic at a recent council meeting.

Rettger said any time he has a suggestion to solve borough crime issues, he 'gets bashed' by the borough police department on the Munhall Crime Watch page.

'If you look at the Facebook page, your department constantly bashes me, which is unacceptable,' Rettger told council last week. 'I wish it would stop.'

He referred to a Munhall Crime Watch post from a few months ago regarding a disagreement about Perry Street Crime Watch advising people to put their driver`s license number on belongings to identify them if they are stolen. Munhall Crime Watch then told the public that was not a good way to protect belongings because it can cause identity theft.

'I like the fact that a citizen running a supposed crime watch site is going to try and tell the residents of this community how to best protect your belongings and then question the people that are trained to protect the community when they say that is an unsafe method,' the Munhall Crime Watch post said.

It called 'a site like Perry Street Crime Watch a detriment to your safety as a community.'

'It`s not bashing,' Munhall Crime Watch site administrator Dan Boehme said. 'If we see or hear something not factual or against the better interest of the community, we make sure we have the actual facts for the safest route to go. Was his name specifically mentioned?'

To the best of his knowledge, Boehme said, all Munhall police officers are denied access to Perry Street Crime Watch`s Facebook page.

Rettger said Munhall Crime Watch bashed him after he made the comment 'on drugs, selling drugs and carrying guns!' on a news story on Perry Street Crime Watch about a 14-year-old recently killed during a gunfight in West Homestead. Boehme said Rettger has no knowledge that drugs were involved and he shouldn`t be speculating.

Munhall Crime Watch is an official government page run by Munhall Police Department. Rettger runs the websites of Perry Street Crime Watch, Munhall News Watch, Steel Valley Matters, Steel Valley Crime Alerts and the Munhall area`s SpotCrime.

Rettger, who formerly worked as a West Homestead police officer and Century III Mall security director, began a page called Munhall Crime Watch in 2005 as a way for Munhall residents to find out what was going on in the area. He changed his website name to Munhall News Watch in 2007 at the request of Munhall police because they were starting a page. Rettger`s other websites and Facebook pages followed.

Rettger also complained to council that burglaries and vandalism have continued on Perry Street since he started complaining about it six years ago.

Munhall police Chief Pat Campbell said officers are patrolling between Steel Valley Middle/High School and Twenty-second Avenue continuously from around 2:30 on a school day until all the students have cleared the streets.

Rettger said the incidents also happen at night.

Councilman Dan Lloyd said the borough recognizes there are issues and budgeted money last year for a stationary camera system along Main Street. He said the bids came in lower than expected. Council vice president Rob Falce said council can look into putting cameras other places with remaining funds.

Lloyd said leftover money will be used for two mobile cameras to put in 'hot spots.'

Falce said the type of crime Rettger is complaining about happens everywhere. To which, Rettger said that wasn`t acceptable.

'You need a solution,' Rettger said.

Campbell said Rettger`s problem now isn`t the same as it was six years ago.

Rettger told council about his background in law enforcement.

'Do you want to hire me as police chief?' he said. 'That will solve the problem. Hire me as police chief.'

Munhall Mayor Raymond Bodnar asked Rettger if he shared all his information with the police.

'Nobody has approached me,' Rettger said.

Rettger, Boehme and Campbell are supposed to have an upcoming meeting about working together.

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