The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 18, 2012

First step toward crime prevention | Kudos to city for setting up task force


The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Apparently we’re not the only ones who think there has been a surge in crime – especially violent crime – in and around Johnstown.

Johnstown City Council agreed last week to form a Crime and Violence Commission. The group will be charged with analyzing local crime data and issuing a report to council.

We think it’s a great idea.

The first step, as the saying goes, is admitting you have a problem. We think that Johnstown does have more of a crime problem than it has in the recent past, but we haven’t yet seen the numbers to back up that theory.

That’s where the commission, which will be chaired by state Rep. Bryan Barbin, will step in.

“You just have to work together,” Barbin told our Dave Sutor. “From that perspective, what this is, is a first step. You do a report, you make some recommendations and then city council decides which of the recommendations they believe will help move the city forward. First thing you got to do is you have to work with the chief, and you have to see is there more than a perceived increase in crime and violence, and what are the causes.”

As Barbin said, police Chief Craig Foust will be involved with the commission, which will include four members appointed by Barbin, one by Mayor Thomas Trigona and one apiece by the six council members.

Trigona got the idea from the mayor of McKeesport, whose city set up a similar panel.

“The goal of the board is, of course, to help the city, to go in the right direction with the city,” Trigona said.

We applaud the efforts of Trigona, Foust and the members of city council, including Pete Vizza, who researched how Altoona implemented a similar program.

While it seems as though more and more violent crime is filling the pages of our newspaper, we hope that we’re wrong on that front and that crime numbers have not been increasing. But if it turns out that there has been more crime in the city recently, we look forward to seeing what the commission can do to help reverse that trend.

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