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Worthington to keep eye on crime

| Saturday, March 12, 2011

A countywide crime watch effort is gaining momentum in Armstrong County, as residents in Worthington join up.

Neighborhood organizers in Worthington met Wednesday to start a local crime watch. Ford City and Kittanning boroughs already have neighborhood crime watches.

It's an idea coming from the county's District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Department and the Armstrong County Narcotics Enforcement Team (ARMNET) operation in conjunction with the county's community drug awareness program.

Law enforcement officials in the county say neighborhoods working together can reduce crime.

"Our goal is to have a network, a countywide crime watch," said Frank Pitzer, a sheriff's deputy, county detective and area coordinator for ARMNET. "Connect all the communities. We want to have the total involvement of all the communities."

Pitzer said representatives from crime watches would meet weekly.

"We're beginning to see crime sprees and drug activity increasing," said Pitzer. "We have to show we won't tolerate that in any of the county's communities."

Pitzer said the crime watch program is closely connected to the community drug awareness program that's ongoing by county officials. A community drug awareness program meeting in Worthington last month drew more than 100 people, according to Pitzer.

Another community drug awareness program meeting is to be held at 6 p.m. April 6 at the Kittanning Hose Co. 4 fire hall.

Barry Rosen is a Worthington councilman and a state constable who was involved in starting the crime watch in his borough. He is being appointed by the District Attorney's Office as the county's D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance and Education) officer.

"We feel people want to take back their communities," said Rosen. "Act instead of react to drug activity and vandalism.

We didn't have this kind of crime five years ago," he said. "Times have changed. Crime is going up. We're getting the community core back. Watch out for each other. Neighborhoods being neighborhoods again."

Gene Banks organized the Ford City Neighborhood Crime Watch several years ago. He has been inactive in it but says he plans to get involved again.

Banks was asked to attend the crime watch organizational meeting in Worthington as an adviser. He told police and residents there what steps were needed to start a crime watch.

"Local police are seeing a lot of crime," said Banks. "Drugs and small crimes like car break-ins, vandalism and loitering are spreading out to the rural communities."

"A county crime watch is a positive step," he said.

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