Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easton Block Watch Gets New Leadership

By Christina Georgiou

Heather Sutcliffe, second from left, and
Sharon Miller, far left, are sworn in as Easton
Block Watch's new president and vice president
by District Magistrate Antonia Grifo.
The Easton Block Watch Association inducted a new president and vice president Wednesday evening at their reorganization meeting, though the outgoing president and vice president, Scott Reiman and Brian Otto, promised to stay actively involved in the crime prevention organization.

Heather Sutcliffe, who heads the Block Watch's fourth sector, on the south side of Easton's West Ward, was sworn in along with other board members by Magistrate Antonia Grifo in front of about 45 members of the community in the State Theatre's art gallery.

Sutcliffe thanked members for their support and promised to communicate openly with the group during her tenure.

"Being the new president, I'll have a lot to learn," she said.

Sharon Miller, who served previously as the Block Watch secretary, will serve as the group's vice president, and Lorraine Hendershot will continue in her role as treasurer.

Grifo, newly sworn in as the district magistrate for the Downtown Easton area and parts of the West Ward earlier this month, replacing the late Gay Elwell, said she feels Block Watch is an important part of the community and fighting crime.

"This is what it's really about," Grifo said. "We're all in this together."

Easton police Chief Carl Scalzo also praised Block Watch efforts, saying he feels the group has contributed to a decrease in crime in the city.

Easton police Chief Carl Scalzo praised Block Watch efforts
and said crime in the city was down last year.
"The communication between...the citizens and the police in fighting crime is so important, and Block Watch is a big part of that," he said.

Scalzo added that city crime statistics for 2013 will be released shortly and hinted that they the numbers will be good news, though he declined to be specific, saying that Mayor Sal Panto "likes to announce these things."

"I think we've had a very successful year," he added. "I'm really pleased with where we ended up this year."

The Easton Police Department was re-accredited by the state on schedule, and the planned addition of one more officer this year will bring the department to its full complement of 63 members, Scalzo said.

The department will continue to pressure those engaged in illegal activity in the city, Scalzo said.

"Last year we conducted over 30 raids, and I'm not going to go into it, but we're going to keep that up," he said. "We're going to make it as uncomfortable for these people as we can."

While some may criticize the tactic as being "bad publicity", Scalzo said he feels the tactic is effective and sends the message to drug dealers and gang members that Easton is not a good place to conduct their business.

Informants have indicated to police that some dealers won't sell in Easton because it's gotten too risky, he added.

Block Watch efforts have contributed to the trend, Lt. John Remaley said, echoing Scalzo's comments.

"Not one of these raids happened without some information come in from the community," Remaley told members. "The information you feed in to us makes our job that much easier.

He urged citizens to continue to communicate with city authorities to help improve their neighborhoods.

"We also want to hear about the quality of life issues," Remaley said. "Please keep it in mind when you think 'do I want to call the police on this?' Yeah, you do. We want to hear about it."

For more information about Easton Block Watch or to join, visit the group's Facebook page or email eastonblockwatch at

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