John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Police Category

Police Town Hall Discussed at Meet Mack Monday Meeting

Below is an edited transcript by John Mack, Newtown Township Supervisor, of the July 6, 2020, “Meet Mack Monday” Zoom meeting. The focus of the meeting was police accountability and Town Hall meeting. View the video archive here.

NOTE: The Newtown Township Police Town Hall will take place LIVE on July 23, 2020, at 7 PM at the Municipal Building, 100 Municipal Drive.

Statement by Chief Hearn

"I along with my Board supervisors felt it was important that I meet face to face and reiterate that Newtown Township Police Department is here to "serve and protect" and to reassure our community of our commitment to fairness, respect, and dignity of everyone and to continue to build trust and legitimacy. Although this is not an ideal time to encourage our residents to gather together, we felt the need to reassure our residents. As stated in the press release the number of attendees will be limited to 20 residents on a first come first basis due to COVID-19 restrictions. No reservations, however, additional meetings may occur later if the interest is there. Mask coverings will be required in order for everyone's safety, and in our attempts to get people to freely open up on topics that may be discussed, it will not be televised or recorded."

What's Your Opinion?

Despite the Chief's wishes, I am in favor of this meeting being officially recorded or televised - e.g., via Facebook or Zoom - for the public record. Or, barring that, I believe anyone attending the meeting has a right to record the meeting. If "public safety" is a concern, then people making comments or asking questions at the meeting should be able to remain anonymous.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Complete my Town Hall Questionnaire and tell me. After completing the questionnaire, you will be able to see the results, but not any personally-identifiable information of respondents.

Transcript

Posted on 13 Jul 2020, 01:15 - Category: Police

Newtown Police Will Host Town Hall Meeting



Statement by Chief Hearn

"I along with my Board supervisors felt it was important that I meet face to face and reiterate that Newtown Township Police Department is here to "serve and protect" and to reassure our community of our commitment to fairness, respect, and dignity of everyone and to continue to build trust and legitimacy. Although this is not an ideal time to encourage our residents to gather together, we felt the need to reassure our residents. As stated in the press release the number of attendees will be limited to 20 residents on a first come first basis due to COVID-19 restrictions. No reservations, however, additional meetings may occur later if the interest is there. Mask coverings will be required in order for everyone's safety, and in our attempts to get people to freely open up on topics that may be discussed, it will not be televised or recorded."

What's Your Opinion?

Despite the Chief's wishes, I am in favor of this meeting being officially recorded or televised - e.g., via Facebook or Zoom - for the public record. Or, barring that, I believe anyone attending the meeting has a right to record the meeting. If "public safety" is a concern, then people making comments or asking questions at the meeting should be able to remain anonymous.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Complete my Town Hall Questionnaire and tell me. After completing the questionnaire, you will be able to see the results, but not any personally-identifiable information of respondents.

This is not an official Newtown Township or Newtown Police questionnaire. It is hosted by John Mack to learn more about your views and to provide you with additional information in advance of the meeting and following the meeting. 

No identifying information will be revealed to third parties unless you wish for me to submit a question or comment to the Chief. Your question or comment may be read aloud at the meeting.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.

Posted on 09 Jul 2020, 12:18 - Category: Police

Newtown Police Operating “Routinely” During COVID-19 Restrictions

According to the latest Newtown Township Press Release, the Newtown Township Police Department is operating “routinely” during the current coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully certain precautions are being taken to protect police officers who interact with the public on a daily basis.

The March 20-26, 2020, weekly call report from the Newtown Police Dept shows that officers responded to 261 calls for service that week versus an average of 364 per week from 9 Jan 2020 through 12 Mar 2020 – a drop of 28% (see chart). As noted in the report this is due to “COVID-19 restrictions” - mostly regarding traffic citations.

I noticed two interesting items in the latest weekly call report that I have not seen before:

  • 12 Foot Patrol Reports, and
  • 0 Traffic Citations! (compared to 44 for the week ending 3/12)

Police chief John Hearn noted that with the limited traffic there were no observed traffic violations, “which is a good thing,” said the Chief. “Any significant violations observed however will still be addressed. We still encourage everyone unless essential personnel to stay home so that we can prevent this virus from spreading further, protecting our loved ones, limiting serious illness and related deaths, so that we can get back to some type of normalcy.”

Regarding foot patrols, the Chief noted that when time and staffing permits, the Department has officers conduct foot patrols – normally within business districts.

“With the pandemic, the officers were instructed to conduct checks of business facilities/strip malls while most are closed, to prevent burglaries and they were also advised to check religious institutions for vandalism in light of the holy season.”

In 2019, the Newtown Police Department documented 630 foot patrols (aka, “Proactive Patrols”). So far, for 2020, there have been 130 such patrols.

The Chief reminds residents that all NON-EMERGENCY Police requests for an officer to respond should be made by phone call to 215-328-8524.

We are all aware that hundreds of New York City police officers have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least one has died as a result. I hope, therefore, that Newtown residents obey stay home while our police officers are “routinely” at work for us.

UPDATE (10 April 2020): The April 3-8, 2020, weekly call report from the Newtown Police Dept shows that officers responded to 222 calls for service that week versus an average of 364 per week from 9 Jan 2020 through 12 Mar 2020 – a drop of 39% (see chart).

UPDATE (23 April 2020): The April 17-23, 2020, weekly call report from the Newtown Police Dept shows that officers responded to 224 calls for service that week. There were 0 Traffic Citations and 0 Traffic Details that week (see chart). There were several calls regarding theft from vehicles. According to the report: "Many of these crimes have been occurring throughout Bucks County in the early morning hours. We are asking commercial delivery drivers, newspaper delivery personnel and early morning risers to pay attention and immediately report ANY suspicious activity. AS ALWAYS, WE REMIND EVERYONE TO PLEASE REMOVE ALL VALUABLES AND LOCK YOUR CARS!" Several other cases involved fraud.

UPDATE (21 May 2020): The May 15-21, 2020, weekly call report from the Newtown Police Dept shows that officers responded to 376 calls for service that week, which is back to the normal, pre-COVID-19 range. There were 20 Traffic Citations and 29 Traffic Details that week (see chart). Scams were rampant. Some advice: Be alert to the fact that scams exist. When dealing with uninvited contacts from people or businesses, whether it's over the phone, by mail, email, in person or on a social networking site, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam.

Posted on 30 Mar 2020, 10:30 - Category: Police

Newtown Township Police Department Adds Nextdoor to Its Social Media Outreach Program

This morning, I was surprised to see this in my email inbox from Nextdoor:

Actually, I should not have been surprised because the Police Department has an excellent FB page as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts! Kudos to Sergeant Lupinetti, who manages these accounts.

About Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a social networking service for neighborhoods. Nextdoor members can post notices, events, and topics for discussion and/or feedback from other members. Members submit their real names and addresses and other information in their profiles. Posts made to the website are available only to other Nextdoor members living in the same neighborhood, hence the name “Nextdoor.”

Typical platform uses include neighbors reporting on news and events in their "neighborhood" and members asking each other for local service-provider recommendations. It can also be used to post events and other notices of interest to members such as this post I made about the impact of the Township’s Pollution Reduction plan on Roberts Ridge Park:

This resulted in residents attending a Board of Supervisors meeting and submitting comments on the plan for the park. As a result, the plan was changed (read “Newtown Revises Pollution Reduction Plan After Hearing Resident Comments”) and a new group, “Friends of Roberts Ridge Park” (see the FB Group) was formed with a goal to plant native trees in the park to augment the well-maintained meadow area approved by the Township.

It’s a shame that Newtown Township does not have any official social media presence. Of the 53 local government websites studied by the Bucks County Courier Times, 35 (66%) had active Facebook pages, 25 (47%) were active on Twitter and 13 (25%) had YouTube channels.

Social Media Used by Selected Local Municipalities

Because Newtown does not have its own Twitter account or Facebook page, it must rely upon the Police Department whenever it would like to reach out to citizens via social media. Recently, for example the NT Police Twitter account posted this notice for hiring a Township Recording Secretary:

Although the NTPD Twitter account has over 3,100 follows, the majority of these followers are other police departments, law enforcement agencies, police officers and their families, school districts, etc. Consequently, posting to this account is not the best way to reach a significant number of ordinary law-abiding citizens of Newtown.

Now that the NTPD is posting to Nextdoor (see the Departments Nextdoor profile and list of posts here), I am sure their messages will more likely be received and read by the citizens they are intended to reach.

Further Reading: "My BIG Idea: Openness, Transparency & Better Communications"

Posted on 28 Jun 2019, 01:36 - Category: Police

Meet Newtown Township's New Police Chief

John L. Hearn

At the February 27, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting, John L. Hearn, the Commanding Officer of Philadelphia Police Department's 14th Police District, was sworn in as Newtown Township's new Chief of Police by  District Court Judge Mick Petrucci.

The 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.

Hearn was selected by the Supervisors after an exhaustive process that involved screening over 20 applicants. In my review I noted the following about Hearn:

  1. He has experience preparing budgets for special events
  2. He takes an analytical approach to making decisions based on facts
  3. He believes technology can minimize the cost of training
  4. In his previous position he assigned officers “areas of influence” where they are required to knock on doors and visit businesses and introduce themselves
  5. He held special “traffic safety blitzes” and emphasized education vs. tickets
  6. He implemented a “walking with a cop” program
  7. He held monthly town halls with citizens

Of particular interest to me are items #6 and #7 on this list. I hope to chat with Chief Hearns in the near future to learn more about implementing these "community policing" programs in Newtown!

SafeCity Solutions - a consulting company - was hired by Newtown to help evaluate applicants. Their final report noted that Hearn's "experience has provided him with the tools to effectively respond to a myriad of difficult and complex situations in a reasonable time frame... Not all what Hearn experienced in a large city would be applicable to Newtown, but indications are that he could make the transition and adjustment necessary to be a successful suburban police chief."

Hearn has a large number of friends in local area police departments as well as in the FBI where he attended the National Academy. This was obvious from the large number of attendees at the swearing in ceremony.

The audience at John Hearn swearing in ceremony. The entire Newtown Police force was also in attendance but are not in this photo. They were standing behind the podium.

I look forward to working with Chief Hearn and wish him great success in his new role!

Posted on 28 Feb 2019, 01:09 - Category: Police

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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