Delmont police patrols help to engage public, deter crime
Officer Blake Danowski stepped out of his squad car to walk along a bustling neighborhood street in Delmont as his radio crackled in the background.
He scanned Apple Hill Drive, frequently stopping to chat up dog-walkers and porch-sitters enjoying the warm Friday night.
“You just want the presence in the community,” Danowski said. “You can't deter crime without the community.”
Delmont police Chief T.J. Klobucar calls the foot patrol a public relations strategy to engage residents.
It also works as a crime deterrent, officers said.
The effort started four years ago.
In the summer, Delmont police officers drive to different neighborhoods and then walk through residential streets and the business district.
“The police and public both have responsibility to make the community safe and reduce crime,” said Todd Miller, chairman of the community policing committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“The main precepts are partnerships and problem solving,” Miller said. “Foot patrol by itself isn't considered community policing, but when you consider that agency is out, parking their cars and walking, they're getting to know people and building trust. As they meet their citizens, that creates a relationship that can provide information to solve crime.”
The philosophy of community policing can be traced back to London in 1829. It gained traction in the United States during the 1980s when a police chief in Houston called on officers to engage the community, Miller said.
Community policing fell by the wayside after 9/11, when law enforcement shifted its focus to terrorism, he said.
“The problem is, you can't have homeland security without hometown security,” Miller said. “Many citizens recognize strange behavior, especially in the Boston bombings, and they'll share that with the local police because that's who they know.”
He called the initiative “proactive” and said officers likely catch incidents they wouldn't, had they stayed in a car.
That was the case when Danowski walked through another Delmont neighborhood. He spotted a woman in a parked car on the street with the windows rolled down, music buzzing.
“That looks a little suspicious,” he said.
Danowski walked up to the passenger side window, surprising the driver, to check it out.
The woman explained she was waiting for a friend to get home from work. Danowski asked her a few questions and moved on when he decided she was not a threat.
Each street he walks, he stays conscious of the distance back to his squad car. The department is small, and if the other officer on mobile patrol needs backup, Danowski must hustle back to the car.
It's not a problem for the young officer, who spent almost six years serving in the Marine Corps in Turkey, Peru and Israel. Still, he's aware — keeping an eye on the street and an ear on the radio.
Most calls in the borough are responded to in fewer than three minutes, he said.
At the end of a cul-de-sac, Danowski spotted a woman holding her infant daughter while carefully watching her son doodle with chalk on the sidewalk. He walked over to shake her hand and introduce himself.
“It means a great deal to us,” Amanda Bauer said, holding her 3-month-old daughter, Evi. “It's a comfort seeing them at night.”
Another neighbor stopped Danowski to chat about a downed tree. Most drivers waved as he continued walking the streets.
“They walk by to check and make sure your door is locked,” said Heather Caldwell, who owns a massage therapy business in addition to her home in the borough. “It makes me feel secure knowing they keep an eye on my business and where I live.”
Danowski continued patrolling, passing through the parking lot of apartments known to be a trouble area as well as desolate side streets.
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Charges advance for men accused in police scuffle at Fort Ligonier Days
- Hempfield man receives long-overdue Bronze Star for World War II service
- Longtime Greensburg District Judge Albert will seek fifth term
- Arnold man’s molestation conviction upheld
- Endowment of $3.49B makes University of Pittsburgh 25th richest in U.S.
- Westmoreland County settles with fired public defender
- Suspect in West Newton burglary sought; alleged accomplice arrested
- Braddock man held for trial in Jeannette assault, robbery
- Rostraver Democrat aims for 1 of 3 open spots on Westmoreland County bench
- 3 injured in 2-vehicle accident on Arona Road in Hempfield
- Rustic Ridge Mine permit request criticized