Monday, December 10, 2007

Strasburg Police Face Criticism and Praise

Now, for some news and opinion of a local flavor.

Strasburg Police Chief Tim Sutherly held a public forum to answer questions and respond to comments from citizens of the town. Over 60 citizens attended the forum. One quote from the article sums up a lot of the feelings that citizens, including myself, feel while driving around town.

Many comments and questions from citizens centered around being followed too closely in their vehicles and rude treatment by police officers.

There is some truth to this. Shenandoah County residents will attest that, for some reason the cops in Strasburg will get behind you, nearly tailgate you, and follow you from one end of town to another. It's quite annoying, and it can make people feel intimidated and paranoid. There were also concerns about the lack of tact in how police officers conducted themselves when dealing with people in situations such as traffic stops. Sutherly's response...

The chief admitted that there was some truth to the comment, but noted he preferred having overzealous officers who could be talked to and trained, rather than having nonchalant officers.

There is some truth to this and I understand where Sutherly is coming from, but I'm hoping that he will actually talk to and train these officers on public relations.

However, things are not all bad with Strasburg police. They are on constant patrol and they seem to do a good job in doing their actual job.

Councilman Scott Terndrup commended Sutherly for his pro-activeness on drugs, telling the audience that he teaches school "in a place where gangs are more evident" and "flash their colors." He said he supported the chief, who he referred to the public safety expert in the town.

A citizen in the back of the room agreed with Terndrup, saying she was happy that drug and alcohol usage in youth was finally being taken seriously.

"We have one opportunity to get this right," said the chief. "The town of Front Royal and Warren County did not do it right."

There has been some stepped up efforts over the past couple of years in terms of stemming alcohol and drug use amongst teenagers. It's been pretty noticeable and evident amongst town citizens, and their efforts should not go without commendation.

Chief Sutherly is also correct about his assertion that Front Royal and Warren County did not "do it right" in regards to stemming drug use and gang activity in the schools. Strasburg, however, seems to be heading down the right path on this.

All-in-all, it seems like Strasburg police are doing their job pretty well, they just need some "public relations" skills. At least it is something that can be taught, especially since the police force is relatively young and able to learn.

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