When he was watching Penn State football play Michigan earlier this month, Patton Township Police Chief John Petrick had his eyes on the television but an ear on his police radio.
As soon as the four-overtime game reached its conclusion, he headed to Beaver Avenue to make sure no riots would break out.
It ended up being a quiet night because of the added local police presence, he said.
Petrick gave his annual report to the Patton Township Business Association at its monthly meeting Wednesday, saying there has been a slight uptick in crime but that the township is still below county and state averages.
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Some of the additional crime comes from retail thefts, which he attributed in part to the large number of businesses that are opening on North Atherton Street, he said.
“You have a lot of nice businesses,” he said. “You have nice things to take, but we have a good relationship with our loss-prevention people.”
In the past, he said, people might have been sent a citation in the mail for the crime. Now, police handcuff retail-theft perpetrators and take them directly to central booking to be processed. Pennsylvania law stipulates that three retail theft citations, no matter how severe, result in a felony charge.
Petrick added that community outreach is a key for the department.
Interacting with business leaders and providing outreach to schools and other parts of the community could prevent future problems. He said some school officials might be wary of having police walk through the hallways, but that local administrators have been very open and willing to work to ensure safety.
“We’re a fixture,” he said. “We’re like the tiles on the floor.”