Chambersburg moves away from SWAT team and towards community policing

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 3, 2014 4:00 AM

(Chambersburg) -- Simply put, Chambersburg's Mayor Darren Brown wants police officers to get out of their cars and walk around downtown. The proposal comes nearly a month after the borough scrapped its SWAT team, and the four-part plan promotes what officers call community policing.

If approved by the end of the year, it would establish a satellite police station in the southern part of the borough, and re-direct money towards a part-time officer to patrol on foot. Police officers would also teach a class on teen driving at Chambersburg's high school, and the "crime impact team" would be re-established.

Brown says his strategy will be more effective than a SWAT team.

"They're out there every day, talking to people, which actually helps with investigations because a lot of times people might be scared to tell about the activities that they see going on in their community," he says.

Brown says in the past, an officer would walk downtown three days a week for four hours at a time.

The cost would be minimal, says Brown, because money would just be redirected from other areas of the budget.

"It's just difference of opinions as to what are the concern areas and what would keep the town safer. And that's sort of where I differentiate from my predecessor. He believed that the SWAT team would keep the town safer," adds Brown.

The new strategy could go into effect as early as January, when a new budget year starts.

Some studies have suggested crime decreases slightly under a "community policing" approach.

But the largest impact is on the perception of the police department.

Brown says the community's opinion will determine how he judges the new program.

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