Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Editor’s note: Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to Berks County and the City of Reading for tackling crime head on!
A Reading law firm has begun paperwork to form a new nonprofit group to focus on crime initiatives in much the same way that a private group did in the Altoona area.
The move comes after a January crime summit in which Gov. Tom Corbett urged local leaders to study a Blair County program called Operation Our Town, which was started by business leaders to help fund law enforcement and community efforts to stop young people from becoming criminals.
Daniel B. Huyett, a partner in the Reading law firm Stevens & Lee, said Wednesday that the group will be incorporated as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
That decision was made at a meeting this week among Berks County business leaders with Michael A. Fiore, owner of an Altoona construction company who started Operation Our Town in Blair County after a series of shootings there.
If law enforcement leaders can lay out a clear-cut strategy to reduce drug and gang activity in Reading and Berks County, there is a good chance businesses will be willing to pay for some of it.
That was the feeling of Ellen T. Horan, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, on Thursday after she and other area leaders got a rundown of how a business-fueled crime-fighting program has succeeded in Blair County.
“In our community, it would be helpful to have the business community step up, if we developed some strategies and expected outcomes,” Horan said.
The nonprofit program, Operation Our Town, was started by business leaders in Blair County to help fund law enforcement and community efforts to stop young people from becoming criminals.
A visit in the opposite direction – Berks officials going to Blair – was one of five strategy points that emerged from last month’s crime summit.
Officials in both areas said that visit was still likely to happen. But Randy Feathers, named by Corbett’s office as a facilitator in getting the two communities together, said the Blair-to-Berks visit would happen first. It is scheduled for Feb. 21.
Lasting two hours and 15 minutes, the summit produced a five-point set of initiatives that county officials pledged to pursue immediately. Those ranged from strengthening county-city cooperation to a fact-finding trip to learn about a community program in Altoona.
Berks District Attorney John T. Adams and Christian Y. Leinbach, county commissioners chairman, were at the center of preparations for the summit.