Residents of a close-knit development near the borough's Main Street Park and Route 309 in Quakertown pleaded with officials Monday night as they painted a picture of blossoming crime in their community.
Concerned members of the Independence Place Community Association, Madison Court, came together to tell council members about criminal mischief and drug incidents within their development.
The 108-townhome community, which consists in large part of families with small children, has experienced a recent run-in with drugs that allegedly involved children discovering small bags of heroin earlier this summer.
Ron Myers, president of the homeowner's association, asked officials for additional police protection on the streets within the community and whether surveillance cameras are feasible.
"At our last association meeting several residents brought up safety concerns, mostly in the Washington Court area, about getting cameras," Myers explained. He asked officials for permission to attach the cameras to utility poles and if use of the borough's power could be worked out.
Borough manager and police Chief Scott McElree stated, "We appreciate you all coming tonight and we can certainly meet with your group in the near future. With cameras, there is a privacy issue and as an association I assume you have an attorney. Contact him and discuss the legal aspect involving privacy. You can put cameras up and the police department will support you."
McElree explained the benefits of installing visible security cameras as being a deterrent to criminals and also as an aid for police in identifying the parties involved as well as whether weapons are present during a crime. He also encouraged residents to report anyone within the neighborhood who is using or selling narcotics. This will allow for police monitoring and gathering of data such as license plate numbers to create a file on that person, he said.
Officials explained the borough has funds budgeted for electronic surveillance with a priority list of locations starting with the community pool and parks. The hope is to deter vandals and other criminals, added McElree.
In 2015, plans are also set to start running fiber optic lines throughout the borough which will tie in with PennDOT's lines and essentially provide better surveillance of a larger area.
"We recognize the issues with drugs, especially heroin, in the borough and we are doing all we can at this point. It is a national problem, but we have been working with the county commissioners and the district attorney's office over the last eight months searching for a better plan," McElree said.
In the interim, a meeting will be scheduled with residents of the development with police officer attendance.