‘Bridging the gap’; crime watch returning to Pittston Township

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PITTSTON TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — In a time of deep division between law enforcement and the community, one Luzerne County community is hoping an old school crime-fighting system helps bridge the gap.

“We want residents to feel safe and secure in their own home,” Pittston Township Police Department Chief Lena Angelella said.

The relationship between communities and police organizations has been strained in recent past, but in Pittston Township? They’re looking to bridge that gap. A campaign promise fulfilled for township supervisor Joe Hawk, the re-establishment of the Pittston Township Crimewatch.

“I want to bridge that gap between the community and the police department. I want to keep up the good relationships and let people know they’re human beings also; not just a badge doing a job,” Hawk said.

Regular meetings, an anonymous tip line directly to the chief of police’s office and a cohesive, informed community. This crimewatch effort hopes to alleviate a breakdown in communication of local issues.

“For a lot of people, if they have any frustrations, they can come here and maybe we can resolve them here so they don’t have to come to a township meeting to yell, scream and get frustrated,” Crimewatch organizer Mike Savokinas said.

The premise is simple: more eyes on the street.

“We want you to be the eyes and ears for the officers who can’t be everywhere all at once. What we don’t want you to do is be a police officer,” Hawk said.

That’s why Angelella and her department plan on being more than active in this effort. Many interact with police and first responders on their worst days ever, but with Crimewatch?

“They come here. Everyone’s relaxed. It’s a comfortable setting. People can have a better one-on-one conversation with the officers,” Angelella said.

The chief hopes that will help build trust within the community and a better-informed force.

“It’s setting the stage for success and I think that they care as much as we care and they’re going to engage with us. I think it’s going to be very positive,” Angelella said.

The Wednesday night meeting served as an initial meet and greet. The attendance was more than expected. As support for the Crimewatch in Pittston Township grows, future meetings may be held in a larger venue as the real work begins.

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