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City council worries about drug use outdoors

Two councilors asked if homeless and drug use in downtown Reading has increased after witnessing some cases.

Councilor Johanny Sepeda Fleetiz, who runs a downtown restaurant and was a former critic of the downtown improvement district, said he was worried about what he had seen and experienced in his neighborhood recently.

“I saw a lot of drug addicts doing something in public on the street,” she said.

Cepeda-Freytiz added that food, beer bottles and drug-related tools can be found all over the streets and sidewalks.

“I’m very interested in the number of people on the street at night.” The situation is only getting worse, as it happens at night in downtown. The result is seen early in the morning. “

“Drug users can feel free just to use the drug on the street,” she added. “It’s like cracking in a public place or drinking 40 (40 ounces of alcoholic beverage) in a public place. I’m worried they’ll be free to do so without any impact. doing.”

Nine months ago, the city council voted in favor of the dissolution of DID, an organization whose mission was to keep downtown the city clean and secure.

Mayor Eddie Moran’s administration immediately intervened to provide basic DID services in downtown. Public works employees emptied the trash and police increased patrols.

Increased patrols decreased in June when two police officers were relocated to different locations.

March, Moran Named Cindy CastnerAs a downtown coordinator, a public works property manager.

Her role was to oversee what DID was doing downtown, such as planning events such as the first Friday and ensuring the cleanliness of the neighborhood.

The city hired a Hope Rescue mission to provide workers to help mow weeds and pick up downtown trash.

For years, Reading has been addressing issues related to drug use, wandering, garbage and other unpleasant downtown activities.

The Department of Reading Redevelopment and DID have labeled the 800-block courtyard on Penn Street as a problem area. Another problem area was Force Street and Penn Street. A few months ago, the city removed the huge planters and benches there to get rid of those hangouts.

City councilman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said police are working with homeless people near parks and playgrounds, knowing that they could apply elsewhere in the city.

“Sure, to make everyone feel clean and safe,” she said. “I don’t feel that way when I’m passing by people who are affected or very rude.”

‘Who is responsible? ‘

Councilor Donna Reed, who also voted against the reapproval of DID, also noticed the problem.

“I saw people sleeping or lying in front of an open store,” she said.

“I came across someone working at a county service center. He expressed concern to me about coming to a downtown concert,” Reed added.

Reed then asked if he was more dissatisfied with homeless people sleeping in the doorway and the use of drugs like Cepeda-Freytiz since the dissolution of DID.

“Cindy did a great job and the downtown coordination went well,” Reed said. “But this may be the part that didn’t work.”

Council Vice President Lucine Sihelnik said the city wants to hire a part-time downtown ambassador to help with cleaning and other issues.

“These problems are recurring,” she said. “The question is always the same.” Who is responsible for taking care of these areas? “”

Sihelnik added that it’s important not only to get rid of the trash, but also to help visitors get directions, contact the homeless, and more.

“I don’t think there was one entity responsible for this in the past,” she said. “But they have absorbed (DID) responsibilities and I would like to see from the administration where they are with respect to their plans as you actually categorized these.”

statistics

Managing Director Abraham Amoros said a meeting with Castner is scheduled to address the issue with her. He added that downtown issues would be a good debate topic for the committee as a whole.

Upon arriving on Wednesday, Communication Coordinator Christian Crespo shared statistics from police on downtown issues.

“Substance abuse is a tragedy that has plagued all Pennsylvania communities,” the Moran administration said in a Crespo statement. “To deal with that, we need a collective approach. The number of drug-related cases has decreased from 197 in 2020 to 122 so far.”

The statement added that downtown patrols are continuing and the administration is looking forward to getting more information from Cepeda-Freytiz.

“Thanks to the efforts of the reading police, the city is heading in the right direction in relation to crime,” the administration said. “Since 2019, the number of drug-related and quality of life incidents has declined, and in some cases has dropped dramatically. So far, there have been 629 quality of life incidents addressed, but last year. There were 810 cases and 776 cases in 2019. “

“As you can see, the number of cases has decreased since the new and improved downtown area came into effect. RPD continues to excel in its response and law enforcement efforts, which is positive from community stakeholders in this regard. We continue to receive good feedback, “added the statement.

City council worries about drug use outdoors

Source link City council worries about drug use outdoors

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