Contributed by Ron Brown
I will speak to the immediate concerns of residents and the questions asked at the Board of Directors meeting this evening. We have had an increase in unlawful activity over the last few weeks. Graffiti, teenagers reported to be smoking marijuana, teenagers being rowdy and ejected from the pool and the most serious offense, a strong armed robbery on July 5th.
All of these offenses are violations of State Laws. PA State Police (PSP) responded to each incident, taking statements and completing their reports. The most current response we have from PSP regarding the strong armed robbery is from Lieutenant Matthew Nickey… “You may communicate to [the community] that our criminal investigation unit (detectives) is following up on the investigation and that we will send more patrols through the neighborhood in the meantime.”
We have the camera system at the guardhouse recording 24/7 with 4 cameras. We are able to monitor all activity into and out of the main entrance including Shady Grove Pavilion, the maintenance facility and the parking areas. All video recorded during the time surrounding the robbery has been secured for the PSP investigation.
Lake Heritage is a controlled access community. The guardhouse attempts to document every vehicle or person that enters that does not provide a current LHPOA sticker. We are not a “gated community” with a perimeter established to prevent any unauthorized persons.
We have rules and regulations in place such as allowing guests. We do not restrict the number of guests or the age of guests. We do require that a member, or family of member living full time at their residence, accompany all guests on LHPOA property. The initial reaction when “kids” are being disruptive on the point or at the pool is to talk about restrictions. I personally don’t want to live in a community where the number of guests I’m allowed or the number of friends my child can have over is limited because of a few individuals not following rules or laws.
The best crime prevention and deterrent is an aware and involved community. During the July 5th incident, patrol was out on our roads. They were not in the exact location at the exact time of the crime. If we had 5 patrol officers driving around at that exact time, it still would have been very unlikely they would have prevented a crime that took less than a minute. If you see something that doesn’t look right, or you suspect violation of LHPOA rules and regulations, then please call our guardhouse and patrol will gladly take a look. If you see a robbery, a theft attempt, anything requiring police action DO NOT DELAY by calling the guardhouse, CALL 911. If you would then like to notify the guardhouse of what you witnessed and that you called 911, they will be happy to take your information and assist when possible.
I want to clarify the role of our safety and security staff. If you are in need of police, fire, or EMS you must call 911. Our LHPOA staff is not trained nor licensed for law enforcement, fire suppression or medical care. They are in place to assist community members and guests as well as enforce LHPOA rules and regulations. Part of my interest in being chairperson of this committee was to strengthen the customer service of this department. Safety and Security staff are in place for various duties and responsibilities, just some of which include:
Out of town house checks
Road/Boat/Lake/Common areas being patrolled and ensuring rules and regulations are followed.
Respond with police, fire or EMS to assist when needed, such as identifying a location.
Assist members with non-emergency requests when possible.
Guardhouse duties as required.
Overall inspections of LHPOA, such as roadways, bridges, lights, pavilions.
During the month of June, Safety and Security drove 2,132 miles in the Patrol vehicle monitoring our neighborhood. That’s about 71 miles per day, every day. In addition to this, there are 36 properties being checked daily and 13 speed enforcement details. To give perspective on the radar use for speeding enforcement, of the 480 hours of patrol for the month of June, 7 hours were used monitoring speeding.
The Safety and Security Committee discusses every month (Third Wednesday at 1pm) ways to reduce speeding in our community. We are making sure all speed limit signs comply with DOT regulations. We are marking the roadway with 15 MPH stencils where the 15mph signs are currently posted. We are placing two speed calming devices in the community. These “speed humps” are designed to be driven over at the speed limit with little disruption. As speed increases, so does the perceived disruption in the vehicle. We are placing one near the marina in the 15 MPH zone. This measures only 1 .75” high. It will not impact any vehicle or trailer due to clearance. A second one will be placed on the southwest side of Heritage Dr. near Goose Cove. This one is designed for 25MPH traffic and is only 1.5” high. A sign will be posted at both locations.
To address questions asked by members at this meeting:
Q: “What is the process for reporting an incident”
A: See above, for any incident requiring police, fire, EMS or any type of emergency, call 911 immediately. You may notify the guard house after to give them notice and to expect emergency vehicles. If there is no immediate emergency, please call the guard house to report a concern. They will assist you with phone numbers for local utilities and agencies that may need to be notified. They will also notify patrol (8am-Midnight Sunday through Thursday and 9am to 1am Friday and Saturday) to follow up on requests from members.
Q: What is the timeline for law enforcement to arrive to LH?
A: The Gettysburg barrack is the closet PSP location. Officers may be on patrol in the immediate area at any time. For the July 5th incident, they responded to the Lake within 15 minutes. For requests that are not an immediate threat, such as reporting a bag of suspected marijuana that was found, the response time can be over an hour. They will prioritize the calls and respond appropriately.
Q: What is the authority of our Security Dept?
A: As stated above. They enforce LHPOA rules and regulations. They are not law enforcement officers and are not trained nor expected to handle criminal offenses. Any violation of a State or Federal Law exceeds the authority of our Security Dept.
Q: Is there an option to increase patrol?
A: We cannot staff enough personnel to prevent every crime. If there was a feasible option, many US cities would have already incorporated it. We did review adding a full time position for overnight patrol. With the number of requests, the past incident reports and role of safety and security patrol, at this time it would not be the best use of operations budget.
Q: I received a notice from the LHPOA that my delivery driver was speeding and that I may have to pick up my deliveries at the front gate, is this true?
A: All motor vehicles are subject to the same road rules and regulations. This includes members, guests and outside agencies doing business on LH property. When any vehicle without a current sticker enters the community, the lot number and name of the member are required and the guest vehicle license plate is recorded. If that vehicle is speeding or breaking the LHPOA rules, we must notify the member. If this continues to occur, our only recourse is to not allow that particular company to operate a vehicle on our roads. While unlikely to occur, it does provide motivation for the owners of the company to stress to their drivers that they need to obey our traffic rules just as they do on public roadways. For larger companies such as UPS or even the school buses, we have contacted the local management to notify them of offending vehicles. It is up to them to determine which driver is at fault based on location and time of incident. We do not want to restrict any business from operating in LH, however, we do expect them to follow our posted speed limits just as they would on any other road.
Q: There has been a lot of activity on social media sites about the recent criminal activity. Rather than let rumors run, would the Board of Directors (BOD), or the Community Managers put out factual information about an incident?
A: Yes, to a point. I agree we (as BOD) should notify the community of more serious criminal activity. Although we did have a good bit of information regarding the robbery, this is not always the case. If a member calls 911, the emergency vehicle will stop and usually give us the address they were called to. That may be all the information we obtain and therefore cannot put out any type of statement. We also will not send out email blasts for minor issues that have no immediate threat or impact to the community. Moving forward, I will send out any information possible regarding a significant incident where the BOD has enough information to share. As stated earlier, we must also comply with PSP requests to limit information due to an open investigation. I will make sure any information released by PSP regarding the July 5th robbery is shared with the members.
The Board of Directors are community members volunteering our time. We are trying to do what is in the best interest of our community. We welcome any member to become involved with our committees and to participate in the betterment of your lake community. If you have the time to perpetuate negativity on social media, I ask that you please take the time to first contact your board of directors and gather all the information available.