Saturday, November 9, 2013

Halloween gunpoint candy robbery report criticized

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 

Morrisville police are facing criticism again after waiting five days to report that three borough juveniles allegedly had their Halloween candy stolen at gunpoint last Thursday night.
The borough’s mayor, who oversees the police department, said Tuesday that she was told that some kids had candy stolen, but she did not recall being told that a gun was involved.
The council president says that she was not told about the incident at all.
Nothing about the incident appeared on the Morrisville Police Department’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, though it has a post about the borough’s policy on trick-or-treating, which is supposed to end at 8 p.m.   
The Courier Times was unsuccessful Tuesday in reaching Lt. Tom Herron, who is in charge of the police department, for comment. The robbery was included in the borough’s weekly police log as a three sentence item.
Police allege the three kids were returning from trick-or-treating shortly before 8:30 p.m. when they were robbed at gunpoint. The incident occurred on Doloro Drive, according to Mayor Rita Ledger.
In addition to “three full bags of candy,” the suspect stole a “Notre Dame” book bag and an iPod. The items were valued at a total of $135, police said. No other information was provided.
On Wednesday, Sherlock said she met with the mother of a boy who was injured during the robbery. She said he was assaulted.
Morrisville police came under fire in August and September after they failed to immediately report two alleged child abduction attempts until days after they occurred. The lack of communication led to the creation of a town watch group that attracted 200 people to its first meeting last month.
After the second abduction attempt, Ledger, who did not run for re-election, also announced plans to meet with police and council to work out a strategy for publicizing future public safety incidents.
But council President Nancy Sherlock says she didn’t know about the alleged gunpoint robbery until a newspaper reporter told her. She complained that Ledger has not shared any police reports with council in months.
“I’m not happy about this if the mayor knew about this and didn’t tell us,” she said. “It’s a lack of communication or care.”
The most recent police news update Sherlock said that she received was that the Bucks County detectives have taken over the investigation into the Sept. 13 child abduction attempt and that information is not “jiving,” she said.
Ledger, too, expressed frustration at a lack of communication. She added that police are unsure if the gun used in the Halloween robbery was a toy, but “they’re treating it as if it were a (real) gun.”
“I’m not happy about the breakdown. We can all do better in regards to that,” she said, adding that police should release daily incident reports to the public.
Ledger added that she was hospitalized last week until Friday and that she was unable to communicate with council members.
The Morrisville police liaison to the newly formed Morrisville Town Watch group did not post the incident on the department’s new Facebook page because she was not given the information, Ledger said. The officer will now request a daily list of incident reports, Ledger said.
“We went to the extent of putting a Facebook page together to keep the residents informed. There is going to be some misses in the beginning until we get this ironed out,” Ledger added. “Being that this is one episode, we know where the breakdown took place.”
Town watch member Jen Holthenrichs said the Halloween robbery wasn’t reported to their group, so they couldn’t disseminate the information. But she added that the police recently have stepped up neighborhood patrols.
“I will say the increased police presence here on Halloween was fantastic,” Holthenrichs added.
Morrisville police were first criticized in August after police waited five days before reporting an alleged child abduction attempt involving an 8-year-old girl.
The girl escaped a kidnapping attempt in her West Bridge Street backyard after she bit the man on the hand, broke free and ran home with her brother.

The police force has been running without a department head since former Chief Jack Jones left in December. A temporary Director of Public Safety hired in the interim quit after two weeks citing a lack of cooperation.
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email: jciavaglia@calkins.com; Twitter: @jociavaglia

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