Curiously, as Columbia news, views & reviews has reported repeatedly, C0lumbia’s inconsistent – more often non-existent – communications concerning policing has lurched into the regional media spotlight. Columbia’s mayor and police chief contend that “police calls” rank the department as the “third-busiest” department in the county while the POLICE LOG published regularly in the daily Lancaster newspaper seldom shows any crime in Columbia.
H-m-m-m! Here are current reports from local television stations in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York metropolitan area.
WHP Channel 21 (story follows below)
“Police in Lancaster County are searching for armed and dangerous burglars, that are breaking into homes while the residents are inside. They say the burglaries are not isolated and they are scattered across Columbia Borough.
“Last Friday night, Shane Bechtold and his family were at the grocery store. They were only gone for 15 minutes. That was enough time for a burglar to break into their home through an unlocked bathroom window. The criminals took off with most of his firearms, and some were loaded.
“Shane said he was in shock when he saw the guns were missing. ‘I came running back out through the house yelling, you better not be in my house.’
“Jessica Bechtold said, ‘It freaks me out, they stole loaded guns.’ She says this burglary drastically changed her life. ‘I haven’t really left the house since it happened. I carry a loaded gun, anytime anyone comes through the door. I’m afraid to go anywhere, my husband makes sure he’s home before dark. And I won’t let my daughter out of my sight.’
“This family is just one of many whose homes were broken into. Police say the crime spree started on Black Friday.
“Some people were inside their homes, relaxing in the evening when burglars broke in and quietly stole things like cash, firearms and small electronic devices and then snuck out. ‘It’s not just the material things they took, it’s the stress that is put on our family. I’m pregnant, emotional and all I want to do is cry because someone was in my home.’
“As for the people who violated her family by breaking into her home, Jessica has this message. ‘We work hard for everything we have, try doing the same.’
“No one was hurt in any of the burglaries. Police are reminding you to lock your windows and doors. Don’t leave valuables where people can see them through a window.”
Not surprisingly, unlike the testimony from the mayor and the police chief heard at the recent Council meeting of the whole, there have been no comments from either one on the burglaries.
Could it be they are still in denial? No, at the meeting, both asked for more personnel for the police department! The mayor and the police chief defended the whopping overtime budget item for policing.
Both said there were lots of “police calls” in Columbia. Neither mentioned that the “police calls” never hit the local police log in the daily newspaper.
Neither fessed up that Columbia is not alerting their citizens to criminal activities.
A month or so ago, the mayor told Columbia news, views & reviews that police inform citizens with a facebook page; gee, there’s no mention here.
He also promised to have the police share police press releases with Columbia news, views & reviews so it could inform its readers with criminal activity alerts. That has not happened.