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We Need a "Full" Ban on Fracking to Protect the Delaware River Basin!

We Need a "Full" Ban on Fracking to Protect the Delaware River Basin! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The gas industry doesn’t seem to have taken much of an interest in the talk surrounding a ban on fracking in the Delaware River basin. It could be that its key players don’t think there is developable gas resources down there.

In fact, all the protest we’ve seen on the issue has come from environmentalists, who say it’s not enough to ban hydraulic fracking — the process of pumping water, mixed with chemicals, into the earth to release natural gas. They also want the ban to include the import, treatment and discharge of wastewater from the drilling.

You never know what the future holds, however, so we’re on board with Gov. Phil Murphy’s call for a “full” fracking ban that does just that in the basin, which also touches parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York. The northern half of Burlington County is in the basin.

Murphy announced his position in a letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission, which oversees water resources throughout the watershed. The commission includes the governors of the four states plus a representative of the federal government.

A spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf told NPR that his office was still reviewing the letter. We hope that once that review is finished, Wolf will follow Murphy’s lead.

The commission created a de-facto moratorium on fracking in 2010 and extended it indefinitely the following November when it delayed enacting regulations that would have allowed drilling.

In 2017, Wolf voted with the governors of New York and Delaware to issue draft regulations to permanently ban fracking in the basin. Murphy’s predecessor, Chris Christie, abstained from the vote and the federal representative opposed it. That proposed ban, however, did not include the wastewater restriction that environmentalists wanted. Murphy’s letter supporting a “full” ban was praised by those environmentalists.

We’re not sure when, or if, a vote on Murphy’s proposal will follow, but here’s why we like it and hope Wolf will support it. We believe if the gas industry is interested in the basin, it’d more likely be for wastewater discharge than for drilling. The basin’s proximity to Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale could make it a logical place for the wastewater, which environmentalists claim is toxic, to end up. And as Murphy said in his letter:

“The chemicals present in fracking wastewater are still unknown and we must take caution to protect the recreational, ecological and water resources for the millions of residents and businesses who rely on a clean Delaware River basin.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

At a March 28, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved Resolution 2018-R-10, which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.” More on that and video comments before the Board of Sharon Furlong, spokesperson for the Bucks Environmental Action Group and for Bucks County Sierra Club, here.

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These scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. They focus on public health issues such as opioid addiction, water and air quality, environmental issues, emergency services, traffic, crime, etc.
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Bucks police adopt countywide use-of-force guidelines

Bucks police adopt countywide use-of-force guidelines | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

After months of work, Bucks County's 39 police departments will now all be following the same 15 guidelines when force is used.

 

While many of the policies and practices were already in place among the departments, the effort represents the first time law enforcement countywide will formally work under the same set of guidelines.

 

The Bucks County Chiefs of Police Association, along with Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, announced the guidelines Wednesday.

 

“The key to public safety, in my opinion, is transparency and communication of our police policies," Weintraub said. "This way the public’s expectation on police permissible use of force will match its perception."

 

The county's police chiefs had been working on the use-of-force guidelines since the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May and the nationwide unrest it caused.

 

There were calls for reform throughout the country, including in Bucks County.

 

The guidelines include requiring officers to use de-escalation techniques when possible, requiring an officer to intervene when another officer is using unreasonable force, and requiring officers to complete written reports when using force.

 

Chokeholds will also be prohibited unless deadly force is "reasonably necessary," according to the guidelines.

 

Deadly force may only be used when an officer believes the action is in defense of life in imminent danger or death or serious bodily injury, according to the guidelines.

 

Bensalem Director of Public Safety Fred Harran said many of the guidelines had already been followed by county departments. "This is nothing new," he said.

 

Read: 

 

A committee of multiple county chiefs was formed to look into use-of-force at the suggestion of a county chief following Floyd's death.

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Disseminating Preliminary, Incomplete COVID-19 Vaccine Study Results by Press Release Represents Bad Science

Pfizer and BioNTech announced today that the initial interim analysis of data from the phase 3 study of the companies’ experimental COVID-19 vaccine shows that it is more than 90% effective. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, released the following statement:

 

“The release of preliminary and incomplete clinical trial data by press release to the public is bad science.

 

“Until the trial results are independently reviewed and scrutinized by staff at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the independent experts on the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, enthusiasm for the apparently promising interim results announced by Pfizer and BioNTech must be tempered. Crucial information absent from the companies’ announcement is  any evidence that the vaccine prevents serious COVID-19 cases or reduces hospitalizations and deaths due to the disease.

 

“More importantly, critical safety data from the phase 3 trial of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is not yet available. In order to ensure public confidence in this vaccine or any other COVID-19 vaccine being tested, the FDA must wait for sufficient long-term safety monitoring of subjects to be completed before approving such vaccines.”

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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves a Single Fire Chief for NESD Career & NFA Volunteer Firefighters & Reduces Funding for Volunteers

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves a Single Fire Chief for NESD Career & NFA Volunteer Firefighters & Reduces Funding for Volunteers | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Fire Chief Glenn Forsyth will officially take over as chief of the all volunteer Newtown Fire Association effective Jan. 1, 2021 under a bylaws change approved by the board of supervisors on October 29.

 

“This is a huge step for the Newtown Emergency Services and the Newtown Fire Association,” said Forsyth, the chief of the paid Newtown Emergency Services department. “It’s the first step in bringing our two departments together as one.”

 

It’s also in keeping with a fire study commissioned by the township in 2018, which recommended moving to a single fire chief who would oversee both the paid full time staff at the Newtown Emergency Services department (Station 55) and the volunteers with the Newtown Fire Association (Station 55).

 

The resignation of NFA Chief Matt Gerhard at the NFA’s October meeting opened the door to the change in bylaws, which is pending the approval of the NFA membership at its November meeting.

 

“Matt is taking a leave of absence only as the Chief. We’re not letting him out the door,” said Forsyth.

 

If the change is approved by the NFA membership, a new organizational chart will be put into place in which Forsyth will now officially oversee both organizations. A deputy chief will be added to the association’s chain of command and two battalion chiefs would be added, one at Station 55 and one at Station 45. Both would report to Forsyth.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Why I voted NOT to approve this contract.

 

The contract, like the proposed 2021 budget, reduces the Newtown Township’s yearly contribution to the NFA from $175,000 to $160,000. If the contract is approved by the NFA, it takes precedence over the budget, meaning the Township is committed to that lower number and Supervisors no longer have any say in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, the proposed 7.99 mills real estate tax increase includes 0.125 added to the Fire Fund, which includes this yearly contribution and the salary and benefits of the Chief Forsyth. That’s an added $43,000 per year! The township is collecting MUCH MORE than enough additional money to cover the Chief’s salary & benefits while providing LESS services via funding the NFA!

 

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, November 3, 7:42 AM

Why I voted NOT to approve this contract:

 

The contract, like the proposed 2021 budget, reduces the Newtown Township’s yearly contribution to the NFA from $175,000 to $160,000. If the contract is approved by the NFA, it takes precedence over the budget, meaning the Township is committed to that number and Supervisors no longer have any say in the matter.

 

Meanwhile, the proposed 7.99 mills real estate tax increase includes 0.125 added to the Fire Fund, which includes this yearly contribution and the salary and benefits of the Chief Forsyth. That’s an added $43,000 per year! The township is collecting MUCH MORE than enough additional money to cover the Chief’s salary & benefits while providing LESS services via funding the NFA!

 

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Local Area Fire, Rescue, and EMS Will Receive $535,425 in #COVID19 State Relief Fund Awards

Local Area Fire, Rescue, and EMS Will Receive $535,425 in #COVID19 State Relief Fund Awards | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) has announced that 26 area fire, rescue, and EMS will receive $535,425 in funding to offset expenses related to COVID-19, under the COVID-19 Crisis Fire, Rescue and EMS grant from the Office of State Fire Commissioner (OSFC).

 

“Our fire, rescue, and EMS workers dedicate themselves to serving our communities and have been on the frontlines of keeping us healthy and safe, long before this pandemic started,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “These funding awards are critical to supporting the efforts of these brave men and women, who have continued to respond to the needs of our community, often with diminished resources, during these unprecedented times.”

 

The funding awards in Senate District 10 include:

 

- Doylestown Fire Co. No. 1: $25,342

- Fairless Hills Volunteer Fire Co.: $23,973

- Falls Township Fire Company #1: $25,342

- Newtown Fire Association: $25,068

- Newtown Township: $11,094

- Upper Makefield Fire Company: $25,068

- Newtown American Legion Ambulance Squad, Inc.: $15,048

- Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit: $13,754

 

More...

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

  • “The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point”; http://bit.ly/NFAturn
  • “Middletown To Pay $250 to Each Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Worker Who Serves the Township”; http://sco.lt/5v44nI
johnmacknewtown's curator insight, November 3, 7:43 AM

Related Content:

  • “The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point”; http://bit.ly/NFAturn
  • “Middletown To Pay $250 to Each Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Worker Who Serves the Township”; http://sco.lt/5v44nI
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Coronavirus Cancels Bucks County National Night Out with Police Events

Coronavirus Cancels Bucks County National Night Out with Police Events | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

National Night Out events in Bucks County rescheduled for Tuesday have since been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The events were initially scheduled for early August. National Night Out are gatherings that local police hold with their community members.

 

Those events range from large block parties to individual, smaller gatherings throughout their respective municipalities. The goal, according to the event website, is to build relationships between police and their communities.

 

Middletown police were scheduled to have their event at the township municipal building. Officer Melissa Robison said Wednesday the decision to cancel it was made recently.

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As the U.S. Grows More Diverse, Most Police Departments Haven’t Kept Up

As the U.S. Grows More Diverse, Most Police Departments Haven’t Kept Up | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Of 467 local police departments with at least 100 officers that reported data for both 2007 and 2016, more than two-thirds became whiter relative to their communities between those years, according to a New York Times analysis of the data.

 

Nationwide, the share of white officers exceeds the share of the white population, and the gap has grown larger over time. Black and Hispanic groups remain underrepresented in the police force.

 

Researchers say it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about Black officers from the federal data. On the one hand, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that the proportion of Black officers at local police departments across the country fell by half a percentage point, to 11.4 percent, between 2013 and 2016. But given the limitations of the data — all large departments were included but agencies with fewer than 100 officers were only sampled — researchers can’t say for sure how the numbers of Black officers have changed.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Regarding hiring diversity, Newtown Township Police Chief John Hearn assured the audience  at a Town Hall meeting that the Newtown Police Department is an “equal opportunity” employer. Thirty-eight (38) Police Departments throughout Bucks County use the consortium test to find qualified candidates to fill vacancies. 

 

Newtown Supervisor David Oxley asked if there was a way to get a more diverse group of applicants. Understanding that the Chief worked with many black officers while he was a Philadelphia cop, Mr. Oxley suggested that perhaps there is an opportunity for those officers to work in Newtown.

 

“Philadelphia is a whole different animal,” said the Chief. He was referring to the fact that they have a recruiting agency, which seems to be the norm for big city police forces. Unfortunately, Newtown does not have the staff and money to do the kind of recruiting that big cities do. The Chief mentioned that Newtown police jobs are listed on various social media sites and if there is no interest, he does not see a need to go out and try to pull in people who are not interested.

 

Census bureau data show Newtown is 87% white, whereas the Newtown police force is 100% white. 

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Federal Court Rules Pennsylvania COVID Business Closures & Limits on Gatherings Unconstitutional

Federal Court Rules Pennsylvania COVID Business Closures & Limits on Gatherings Unconstitutional | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A federal judge has ruled that key components of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus mitigation strategy are unconstitutional, including a statewide limit on how many Pennsylvanians can gather in one place.

 

In the 66-page ruling, U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV found that the Wolf administration’s policy limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to 25 and 250 people, respectively, violates “the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment.”

 

Stickman also found Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s stay-at-home orders and business closures, which have since been lifted, to be unconstitutional. Health experts widely considered temporary business closures and limits on operations to be necessary in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

 

A spokesperson for Wolf said, “We’re aware of the ruling and are reviewing the decision.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:
In light of this decision, I believe Newtown Twp have less leg to stand on to continue having regular BOS meetings via Zoom that exclude residents.
 
Therefore, I propose we get back to having LIVE BOS meetings but still limit the seating - perhaps up it 30 residents. I'm concerned about the inability of residents being able to attend Zoom BOS meetings, especially when we have important decisions to make such as voting on the Wawa curative amendment, ESI final report, budget hearings, etc.
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Newtown Police Investigate Suspicious Letters Sent to Local Businesses Extorting Money

Newtown Police Investigate Suspicious Letters Sent to Local Businesses Extorting Money | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

On Saturday, August 8, 2020 and again on Thursday, August 13, 2020, Newtown Police responded to a report of two suspicious letters delivered by the U.S. postal service to two separate local businesses in Newtown Township. Both incidents were seeking the donation of funds to a cause listed on the letter and threatened harm to the establishment for failure to comply. Both incidents are being investigated by the Newtown Township Police and the Postal authorities in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office.  

 

Police are asking any Newtown or Wrightstown businesses receiving a similar type of correspondence to immediately report the incident to the Newtown Police Department. Due to the ongoing investigation, specifics of the businesses or the letter are not being released by the department.  

 

Fear and Intimidation has no place within the community of Newtown and Wrightstown townships and a thorough and complete investigation will be undertaken to attempt to identify and arrest the offenders of this situation. 

 

As a public service announcement, the Newtown Police advises all residents and businesses to utilize caution when receiving packages from unknown parties, no return addresses, restrictive markings, sealed with tape, misspelled words, unknown powder, excess postage, etc.       


johnmacknewtowns insight:

I'd like to know what "cause" the letter was promoting.

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PennState's Spotted Lanternfly Resource List for Residents

PennState's Spotted Lanternfly Resource List for Residents | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Resources for Residents

Learn how to identify and safely manage spotted lanternfly throughout the year using the following resources:

Factsheets

Quick Reference Videos

Full Webinars – Management Series

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Newtown Police To Launch Month-Long Aggressive Driving Crackdown

Newtown Police To Launch Month-Long Aggressive Driving Crackdown | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Newtown Township is one of 60 police departments in the Philadelphia area that will launch a month-long, coordinated aggressive-driving enforcement campaign starting this week.

 

The campaign starts Wednesday, July 29 and goes through Aug. 23. The goal is to decrease crashes, injuries, and deaths on roadways, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

 

[The 2019 Aggressive Driving Enforcement Program ran from March 18, 2019, through April 28, 2019; there were nearly 300 traffic citations issued by the Newtown Police Department in March that year. See chart here.]

 

The enforcement wave will focus on red light running, tailgating, pedestrian safety and heavy truck violations. Drivers exhibiting other aggressive actions or unsafe behaviors such as speeding or distracted driving may also be cited, according to officials.

 

According to 2019 PennDOT data, there were 1,546 aggressive-driving related crashes, resulting in 22 fatalities in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.

 

Municipal police agencies that participated in last year's campaign made 39,141 aggressive-driving related contacts statewide, which included citing 22,353 drivers for speeding, and 3,077 citations for failure to stop for red lights and stop signs.

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#COVID-19 Delays - in Some Cases, Cancels - National Night Out Community Policing Events

#COVID-19 Delays - in Some Cases, Cancels - National Night Out Community Policing Events | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Bucks police departments are making changes to their annual National Night Out events amid the coronavirus outbreak.

National Night Out, which is typically held in early August, are gatherings that local police hold with their community members.

Those events range from large block parties to individual, smaller gatherings throughout their respective municipalities. The goal, according to the event website, is to build relationships between police and their communities.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s National Night Out was scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4. In Pennsylvania, 335 cities were expected to hold their events, according to the event website.

The national effort organizers recommended police departments throughout the country host their National Night Out events on Oct. 6, which some Bucks departments are currently scheduling.

Middletown and Richland police departments are tentatively scheduled to hold theirs in October, according to officials in both departments.

Middletown’s event is scheduled to be held at the township municipal building from 6 to 8 p.m.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Newtown Police Chief Hearn has said (here): "Any homeowner’s associations, business groups, religious institutions, or local community groups that would like for the Newtown Township Police department to send a representative to their meetings and /or events to provide safety tips, updates, or just to meet your local officers, are encouraged to reach out to us with the proposed dates, time and location of their events (*After Covid19).    Collaboration is a powerful tool in community policing!"

 

I suggest that instead of "After Covid19", that the Chief follow the lead of out municipalities such as Middletown and tentatively set Oct 6, 2020, as a date for reaching out to the community. Instead of meeting at the Town Hall, I would suggest that representatives from the department go out to several smaller meetings on that night - the Chief cannot be everywhere one may be scheduled, but can make an appearance at one or two. Whatever it takes for a more diverse audience to get to know our police officers.

 

Related Content:

  • “@Newtown_Police Chief John Hearn Thanks Residents for Attending Town Hall Meeting”; http://sco.lt/5RsWSe
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@Newtown_Police Chief John Hearn Thanks Residents for Attending Town Hall Meeting

@Newtown_Police Chief John Hearn Thanks Residents for Attending Town Hall Meeting | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

I wanted to personally thank all residents, business owner’s, and concerned citizens who attended our Newtown Township Police Town Hall meeting last evening [July 23, 2020].

 

Additionally, I would like to thank our appointed and elected officials, particularly Newtown Township Manager Micah Lewis, Board Supervisors John Mack, David Oxley and Dennis Fisher, along with Bucks County’s District Attorney Matt Weintraub for their appearance as well and their vested interest in the safety of our community.

 

I apologize for the capacity restrictions due to Covid19 (as required by the Governor’s order), but the meeting still provided some great insight and effective dialogue between our department members, our community members, and our elected officials.

 

Although we did not have enough time to elaborate on some of the questions that were received, we are open to continuing the dialogue and hearing from our various neighbors as to how we can continue to improve the police services in Newtown, our policing profession, while continuing to enhance our community relations, ensuring fairness, respect and dignity to all. Please follow our social media sites for future scheduled meetings and community events.

 

*Note - Any homeowner’s associations, business groups, religious institutions, or local community groups that would like for the Newtown Township Police department to send a representative to their meetings and /or events to provide safety tips, updates, or just to meet your local officers, are encouraged to reach out to us with the proposed dates, time and location of their events (*After Covid19).    Collaboration is a powerful tool in community policing!

Sourced via CRIMEWATCH®: https://bucks.crimewatchpa.com/newtowntwppd/34824/post/thank-you-attending-our-town-hall-meeting

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PA Police Reform Bills Waiting for Governor Wolf to Sign

PA Police Reform Bills Waiting for Governor Wolf to Sign | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Pennsylvania legislature has adjourned for its summer recess after sending two police reform bills to Gov. Tom Wolf.

 

Bills waiting to be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf

As of July 9, the legislature has sent two reform bills to Wolf’s desk. A spokesperson for the governor said he plans to sign them next week.

 

House Bill 1841, sponsored by Rep. Harry Readshaw (D., Allegheny) and Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Philadelphia): This legislation will require all law enforcement agencies in the state to consult a new database with information on disciplinary actions, performance evaluations, and attendance records during a background check.

 

Currently, there is no uniform way for local police departments in Pennsylvania to share instances of officer misconduct with other agencies, meaning someone fired for an egregious reason could find a job with another department.

 

The bill does make available under the state’s open-records law “hiring reports” that must be compiled if a department chooses to hire an applicant with a criminal conviction or binding disciplinary action for wrongdoing, including excessive force, discrimination, and sexual abuse.

 

The Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC), which sets statewide training and certification standards, will determine how detailed those reports will be.

 

House Bill 1910, sponsored by Rep. Dan WIlliams (D., Chester): The other measure before Wolf will require MPOETC to train local officers on how to treat people of diverse backgrounds and require annual in-service training on use-of-force and de-escalation techniques.

 

But more training doesn’t necessarily mean better outcomes. Andy Hoover, a spokesperson for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, referenced the death of Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old black man with chronic mental illness who was shot and killed by State College police in 2019.

 

“The officers had what is considered the gold standard of police training on [mental health] crisis intervention. And still they killed him, with no [mental health] professional on the scene,” Hoover said. “In that case, at least, more training failed to save Osaze’s life.”

 

In an internal June newsletter, MPOETC training unit director Isaac Suydam wrote that developing training for officers is difficult and training does not always change outcome.

 

“[S]ometimes we fall into the trap of believing operational mistakes indicate a lack of effective training, and while they may, that is not always the case,” Suydam said. “Sometimes, despite the training they have received, officers make bad choices.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

An idea discussed at the June 17, 2020, Zoom meeting of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission concerned diverting some police funds to support mental health workers who could respond to 911 calls involving a mental health incident and it may be a topic for discussion at the July 23, 2020, Police Town Hall Meeting (more about that here).

  

Related Content:

  • “This Oregon Town of 170,000 Replaced Some Cops with Medics and Mental Health Workers. It's Worked for Over 30 Years.”; http://sco.lt/7o0R0a
  • “Newtown Police Will Host Town Hall Meeting”; http://sco.lt/7pKMW8
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October 2020 Newtown Township Police Report

October 2020 Newtown Township Police Report | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

In October 2020, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,476 total calls, 295 (20%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown and Wrightstown Townships). Note: Not all calls are listed.

 

There was a significant increase in calls to date vs 2019 for the following: Credit Card Fraud, DUI, Criminal Mischief, and narcotics. These types of calls might be expected to have increased due to the financial and emotional stress due to COVID-19 even though during the red phase of lockdown - from the end of March to the 3rd week of May - calls were down significantly.

 

Another way to look at crime in Newtown is to focus on serious crimes - so-called "Part I" offenses such as murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft.

 

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Newtown Township Police Officers Receive Commendations for Saving the Life of a Fire Victim

Newtown Township Police Officers Receive Commendations for Saving the Life of a Fire Victim | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Corporal Paul Deppi, Officer Nicklaus Whitney, and Officer Nicholas Ciambrello received Commendations for Life Saving for their exceptional actions on February 25, 2020, that undoubtedly saved the life of a fire victim.

 

The collective effort began in response to a dispatch call for a structure fire involving an apartment on Diamond Drive. It was reported that a blind victim was still inside. Patrol quickly responded and assessed the situation. The individual was trapped inside the residence, which was fully engulfed in flames and producing heavy smoke.

 

They proceeded to break through the window of a bedroom and took turns calling and reaching for the victim. Despite the substantial risk to their own safety from the heavy smoke condition and heat levels, they each continued until the victim was located and pulled through the window and relocated to safety.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Well done! There are many other instances where Newtown Twp police have saved lives, such as when they administer Narcan to drug overdose victims. I hope they also receive recognition.

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Bucks County Towns With Most, Least Active COVID-19 Cases: Newtown Twp Total Cases To Date = 183, Deaths = 14

Bucks County Towns With Most, Least Active COVID-19 Cases: Newtown Twp Total Cases To Date = 183, Deaths = 14 | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

With the number of new coronavirus infections in Bucks County holding steady at a relatively low rate, the highest numbers of new cases remain concentrated in the population centers of Lower Bucks.

 

But even the numbers in the county's most populated areas are down dramatically from the peak of the pandemic, according to the latest figures from the Bucks County Department of Health.

 

Bensalem, the most populous township in Bucks County, had 56 active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, according to a health department map

 

Even as Pennsylvania and neighboring New Jersey have reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases over the past week or so, Bucks County has reported maintaining a low baseline number of cases.

 

The following is a [selected] list of municipalities in lower and central Bucks County, along with their number of active coronavirus cases, number of cases since the pandemic began and number of reported deaths.

 

Middletown Township

Active Cases: 23

Total Cases: 868

Deaths: 77

 

Lower Makefield Township

Active Cases: 11

Total Cases: 462

Deaths: 63

 

Newtown Township

Active Cases: 1-10

Total Cases: 183

Deaths: 14

 

Wrightstown Township

Active Cases: 1-10

Total Cases: 35

Deaths: 1-10

 

Northampton Township

Active Cases: 25

Total Cases: 522

Deaths: 24

 

Doylestown Township

Active Cases: 14

Total Cases: 439

Deaths: 77

 

Upper Makefield

Active Cases: 1-10

Total Cases: 66

Deaths: 1-10

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Related Content:

  • “Local Area Fire, Rescue, and EMS Will Receive $535,425 in #COVID19 State Relief Fund Awards”; http://sco.lt/6hyOgq
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The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point

The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[NFA Station 45 on Liberty Street in Newtown Borough]

 

The future of the all-volunteer Newtown Fire Association (NFA) may be determined in the next few months. This is based on plans to address continued staffing and leadership challenges. NFA president Warren Dallas read a letter outlining these challenges to members at the September 28, 2020, regular meeting of the Association.

“Due to a variety of reasons,” noted Dallas, “the Newtown Fire Association is at times unable to provide the proper minimum staffing” to respond to fire calls in Newtown Borough and Newtown Township. As is the case in PA and the rest of the country, the NFA is struggling to recruit, train and retain volunteer firefighters. These problems have worsened this year due to COVID-19.

 

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Moving Toward Progressive Community Policing

Moving Toward Progressive Community Policing | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Bucks County Local Officials and NAACP Discuss the Options

 

On September 23, 2020, the Progressive Local Officials of Bucks County, which is supported by the Bucks County Democratic Committee, hosted a Zoom webinar entitled "Policing in Our Community." The moderator was Doylestown Township Supervisor Jen Herring. Panelists included:

 

Panelists:

  • Brian Munroe - Bucks County Clerk of Courts
  • Mayor Ron Strouse - Doylestown Borough - Member of Central Bucks Regional Police Commission and Chair of the Central Bucks Regional Police Foundation (CRPF).
  • Kayma Sherman-Knuckles - Bucks County NAACP Criminal Justice and Education Committee - Reimagine Public Safety Co-Chair

 

The panel addressed the following questions among other issues:

  • What policing policies and practices should we as elected officials review for proper oversight?
  • What data should we be looking at to evaluate our departments?
  • What are some best practices we can consider adopting to help our police be more sensitive to community needs?

 

Some very interesting statistics and ideas for how local officials can improve the accountability of local police forces. More...

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Persistent Resident Complaints Lead to Newtown Township Installing Portable Restrooms in its Parks

Persistent Resident Complaints Lead to Newtown Township Installing Portable Restrooms in its Parks | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Photo shows sign taped to door of every portable restroom in Newtown parks.]

 

Persistent complaints from a resident prompted Newtown Township officials to recently install portable restrooms at township parks.

 

The parks had been without restroom facilities of any kind for several months because of fears their use might help spread the coronavirus, township officials said.

 

But resident Terry Halper said not providing any facilities could lead to unsanitary conditions. The portable restrooms were installed after Halper lodged frequent complaints with township Manager Micah Lewis and township supervisors, and contacted the Bucks County Health Department.

 

"Portable restrooms have been provided in parks where regular restrooms exist for the use of the public at their discretion," Lewis said. "The regular restrooms are not open due to the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions and mandates,"

 

Township supervisor John Mack added "I think providing portable restrooms in our parks was a positive step to service the need of residents who use the parks during these difficult times. Obviously, it's always a good thing when the township responds to residents' concerns in a timely fashion, which was the case here."

 

But Halper said he was far from thrilled by the township's response despite the eventual installation of the portable restrooms.

 

"I shouldn't have to fight this hard to get sanitary facilities in parks," he said. "I think they need help in understanding public health issues."

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Mr Halper wrote:

 

"The Following Complaint has been filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Health due to the LACK OF TIMELY action by Newtown Township ... to PROTECT the health and Welfare of the 20,000 Newtown Township Residents...

 

"Newtown Township, Bucks County, PA has their 3 public Parks, (Veterans, Robert's Ridge, and Helen Randall), OPEN, Utilized by 50% of the 20,000 Township population: Have had the public Restrooms CLOSED all of 2020. NO HAND Sanitizer. No sanitary facility, No porta Potty...

 

"Every other Local, County, or State Park in the area that is OPEN has AT least 1 porta potty in their parks IF they have chosen to lock the built restrooms..."

 

 

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Delray City Weighs Cost Down the Road of Accepting a $1.6M Grant to Hire Firefighters

Delray City Weighs Cost Down the Road of Accepting a $1.6M Grant to Hire Firefighters | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

With the city facing a coronavirus-induced deficit of $2.3 million, two city commissioners have asked Interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez to determine what will happen if the city refuses to accept a federal $1.6 million grant to hire eight firefighter/paramedics.

 

The grants, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, help cities hire frontline firefighters to adequately staff their fire departments.

 

The grants are referred to as SAFER grants, as in “Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.” In 2014, the city landed another SAFER grant, this one totaling $1.2 million to hire seven firefighters.

 

But what’s at issue is the long-term impact the grants have on the city’s budget.

 

The grant only partially cover the new hires’ salaries and expires after three years. For the first two years, it covers 75% of salaries and 35% the third year. The cost to Delray Beach for the first two years is $221,492 and $575,879 the third year. With the federal aid no longer available thereafter, the city will have to assume the entire annual payroll cost of $885,968. The grant requires the city to maintain its existing staffing level.

 

[NOTE: “DHS and FEMA will provide these fire departments with 100 percent of the funding needed to hire fire fighters over the next three years.” Source: IAFF]

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Newtown Township applied for a SAFER grant to hire 5 new paid firefighters in order for the township to provide 7 day coverage where currently it provides coverage for 5 days and the all volunteer Newtown Fire Association covers weekends and evenings. As of September 23, 2020, which is well past the “award date” of July 1, 2020, NT has not received confirmation that it has won an award.

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Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit: Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspection | Newtown Township Police Department

Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit: Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspection | Newtown Township Police Department | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

On August 12, 2020, the Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit conducted a commercial vehicle safety inspection detail in Wrightstown Township in order to help make our roads safer. The Newtown-Makefield Truck Enforcement Unit is made up of MCSAP officers from Newtown Township Police Department, the Newtown Borough Police Department and Upper Makefield Township Police Department.  See attached Below are the results from the details:

 

  • 17 trucks stopped and inspected
  • 18 Total Violations 
  • 3 Trucks out of service
  • 9 Citations
  • 9 Warnings

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Battling Drug Addiction? Now You Can Get Help from Some Bucks County Police Departments. Just Walk In & Ask!

Battling Drug Addiction? Now You Can Get Help from Some Bucks County Police Departments. Just Walk In & Ask! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A police department may seem like an unlikely destination for someone battling a drug addiction.

 

But in Bucks County, a dozen area police stations are opening their doors, making it clear that they want to help people get treatment — not arrest them.

 

Unveiled Wednesday, the expanded Bucks County Police Assisting in Recovery program will equip a dozen participating agencies with the resources and county support needed to help those showing up at police stations find care while also providing free transportation to treatment facilities.

 

“We can get someone help within a couple of hours,” said Bensalem’s Director of Public Safety Fred Harran, who launched the first program in 2016 and has helped 70 to 80 people get into treatment since then. He said police will serve as “ambassadors” to the public, connecting those in need “to the experts...no questions asked.”

 

Bucks County’s Board of Commissioners, local law enforcers and officials with the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission gathered at the county’s Justice Center in Doylestown Borough Wednesday to announce the launch of the expanded collaboration between law enforcement and recovery advocates. Diane Rosati, executive director of the commission, said a $300,000 state grant will help pay for police training, media materials, assessment and some treatment costs for the police-assisted diversion program.

 

“We want to get folks access to services when they are ready — without a wait. That is the goal of the project,” she said.

 

Police departments connecting residents struggling with addiction with treatment include:

Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission: 215-444-2700 or https://www.bcdac.org/

 

If you or someone you know is seeking help, call one of these 24/7 BPAIR Helplines located in your community:

 

  • Bensalem Police Department: 215-633-3727
  • Falls Township Police Department: 215-949-9100
  • Lower Southampton Township Police Department: 215-357-1234
  • Northampton Township Police Department: 215-322-6111
  • Perkasie Borough Police Department: 215-257-6876
  • Plumstead Township Police Department: 215-766-8741
  • Quakertown Borough Police Department: 215-536-5002
  • Richland Township Police Department: 215-536-9500
  • Upper Southampton Township Police Department: 215-364-5000
  • Warminster Police Department: 215-672-1000
  • Warrington Township Police Department: 215-343-3311
  • Warwick Township Police Department: 215-343-6102

 

 District Attorney Matt Weintraub said the program is meant to increase the community’s access to treatment and marks the beginning of a movement that he hopes eventually will include all of the county’s 39 departments within a year.

 

Once people come in, officers can connect them with a navigator from the county’s Drug and Alcohol Commission, transport them to a care center where a professional can assess their needs and work to find them placement in a recovery program.

 

“What we have to work on now is building that trust so that someone suffering from opioid addiction can feel comfortable coming to the police department, coming to a police officer knowing you won’t be arrested if you ask us for help,” said Harran.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

  • “The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission Awarded $650K Grant for Warm Hand-Off Program for Opioid Overdose Survivors”; http://sco.lt/8JkqXI
  • “Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis”; http://sco.lt/7ZZCOf
  • “Pharmaceutical Opioid Settlement Cash Should Be Used to Create Treatment Programs for Addiction Victims, Says Newtown, OH, Police Chief”; http://sco.lt/78MN16
  • “Volunteer 'navigators' needed for Bensalem recovery assistance program”; http://sco.lt/5hYF9c
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Middletown Township, in partnership with TMA Bucks, has opened two new electric vehicle charging stations

Middletown Township, in partnership with TMA Bucks, has opened two new electric vehicle charging stations | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

One station is located in the parking lot outside the Middletown Township Municipal Center, and the second is outside of the main entrance of the Department of Public Works building. Both stations are currently open for public use at the rate of 18 cents/kWh. The locations feature ChargePoint stations.

 

TMA Bucks said the township does not profit from the charging stations.

 

The charging station were funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Driving PA Forward program. The program was developed by Gov. Wolf’s administration to help Pennsylvania meet its diesel emissions reduction goals.

 

“Middletown Township is extremely proud to join the growing network of charging stations for electric vehicle drivers and support clean energy solutions to protect our environment,” said Stephanie Teoli Kuhls, township manager, in a press release.

 

TMA Bucks is a nonprofit transportation management association that promotes and coordinates travel demand management strategies to reduce traffic congestion. The nonprofit serves as a clearinghouse for transportation policies and programs throughout Bucks County. TMA Bucks assisted Middletown in securing the grant money for this project.

 

[TMA Bucks Executive Director Steve Noll said] TMA Bucks is available to answer any questions from municipalities or organizations regarding the Driving PA Forward program. The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

“Reducing emissions is an important tool for improving the air we breathe,” Noll said. “We were extremely happy to work together with Middletown Township on this project that will help contribute to cleaner air and lower emissions in the area.”

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Elcon Finally Withdraws Application for Large Hazardous Wastewater Plant in Falls Township

Elcon Finally Withdraws Application for Large Hazardous Wastewater Plant in Falls Township | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Israel-based Elcon Recycling Services has withdrawn its application to build a large facility in Falls Township that would have processed up to 210,000 tons of liquid chemical waste annually for recycling, according to a notice the company filed Thursday.

“The current business climate, including the impacts of COVID-19, has forced Elcon to reevaluate its plans for expanding its hazardous waste treatment business into the United States,” Zvi Elgat, the company’s CEO, said in a withdrawal letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Elcon’s plan to build a U.S. plant had been met with years of stiff resistance from officials and residents in the Bucks County township (see "Related Content").

“The withdrawal of Elcon’s applications for a proposed project in Falls Township is a win for both local residents and the environment,” State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks) said in the statement. “I have been opposed to Elcon’s proposal from the beginning. ... Today’s announcement is a victory in a hard-fought battle, led by concerned residents, to protect the health and safety of our entire community.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

  • “Victory! Falls Supervisors Reject Elcon Plan”; http://sco.lt/5QNYOG
  • “John Mack Lists the Air Pollutants the ELCON Hazardous Waste Treatment Plant Would Be Allowed to Emit”; http://sco.lt/8qcY8e
  • “Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River”; http://sco.lt/7p4zLd
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Report Says PA Fails to Protect Residents from Fracking, But Major Reform is Unlikely

Report Says PA Fails to Protect Residents from Fracking, But Major Reform is Unlikely | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The recent findings of a massive grand jury investigation into the state’s failure to protect communities from unconventional oil and gas development, known as fracking, were damning, and lent official credence to problems many residents have decried for years.

 

The long-anticipated report outlined explicit ways in which the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health turned a blind eye to the snowballing effects of fracking on Pennsylvania’s residents and skirted constitutional obligations to protect the environment.

 

State officials testified about directives to ignore health concerns and practices that glossed over the harm the public experienced, effectively gaslighting residents whose tap water appeared brown or experienced rashes when they showered, but were told nothing was wrong.

 

The testimony also revealed how officials deferred to the industry and poorly tracked complaints, and how state workers failed to properly test potentially tainted air and water.

 

Several of the report’s recommendations address problems previously raised by advocates in legal cases and unsuccessful pushes for new legislation to better account for the health and environmental impacts of fracking. Some lawmakers said the proposals overreach and are an ineffective way to change policy.

 

State agencies, meanwhile, dismissed the report outright, calling the recommendations unnecessary and crafted by a group of people unqualified to understand environmental law. Many of the issues raised were outdated, they said, and already addressed.

 

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the report is not the end of the investigation. Roughly a week prior to the report’s release, the grand jury issued indictments against the oil and gas companies Cabot Oil & Gas and Range Resources, alleging they committed environmental crimes, including polluting the local water supply with methane — in one case causing a well to explode — and negligent oversight of well sites, as well as knowingly covering up problems.

 

Still, many who have called for better industry oversight and regulation questioned the absence of any criminal charges against state officials and the lack of focus on Gov. Tom Wolf, who has overseen the agencies criticized by the grand jury report for five years. Others say the report’s ineffectualness is evident in the state’s current behavior. Even after the indictments, the Department of Environmental Protection issued permits to the companies charged.

 

John Smith, a Washington County attorney who has represented numerous landowners against gas companies, said the grand jury report at least provides “some documentation” that validates what people in his community have long known: Laws are inadequate and the state will not step in to protect residents against oil and gas development.

 

“There is not an appetite to enforce anything with any teeth,” he said.

 

Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks), minority chair of the Senate’s environmental committee, said he and other lawmakers intend to introduce bills to address the recommendations, but would not say what or when. A spokesperson for Wolf said the governor would support additional legislative efforts.

 

“We are not going to let this report sit out there without some action being taken,” Santarsiero said.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

At a March 28, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved Resolution 2018-R-10, which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.” More on that and video comments before the Board by Sharon Furlong, spokesperson for the Bucks Environmental Action Group and for Bucks County Sierra Club, here.

 

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