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The Berks County Commissioners released their promised report on the status of the five items highlighted at the conclusion of the county’s first crime summit, held Jan. 18 at the Crowne Plaza in Reading.
The commissioners said another progress report will be generated by Reading Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer within the next several days.
The five next steps included:
1. An agreement for officials from the county and the city of Reading to sit down and determine how to better work together on law enforcement issues.
The commissioners reported that this meeting will take place on March 11 at 1:00 p.m. in the chambers of Reading city council. This meeting will be open to the public.
2. Consolidation of certain local police forces for better efficiency and more regional cooperation within the county and across county borders.
Berks County District Attorney John Adams and his staff are leading this effort in conjunction with Senators Robert Casey and Pat Toomey. The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBINS) would serve a several county region in order to qualify for federal funding. Additionally, it would require two full-time staff; one position would be funded by Berks County and one position by the district attorney’s office via drug forfeiture money.
Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt has agreed to lead a task force to review the prior Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) study and possible consolidation of local police departments.
3. Some potential dollars from the federal level.
Berks County Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach sent an email to senators and congressmen asking for support for three grant programs: Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) and the bullet-proof vest program. In addition, Adams is providing congressmen and senators with information regarding NIBINS and asking for funding in order to acquire the necessary equipment.
4. State police to visit to Blair County and Altoona (Operation Our Town) to review their efforts to address crime.
Trip is in the planning stages. Additionally, a closed-door meeting between local business leaders, law enforcement personnel and a representative from Operation Our Town was held Feb. 21.
5. Agreement to form a joint law enforcement intelligence committee similar to other regions in the U.S.
The committee will incorporate local, state and federal law enforcement who will share information to better address crime in the county. Adams has scheduled a closed-door meeting in March.