Policing the Web DA at borough council meeting to honor officer
GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Several commendations came the way of the Ephrata Police force at Monday night’s meeting of the Ephrata Borough Council, which was attended by none other than Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman.
Stedman was on hand to issue an Award of Merit to Detective Bradley Ortenzi for his work with the Lancaster County Computer Crimes Task force.
"Computer technology in all its forms has become integral to all types of modern technology touching our daily lives in countless way," stated Stedman. "While the benefits of computer technology are immeasurable, the technology has unfortunately been embraced by the criminal element in society which has exploited it to commit all nature of crimes. Today criminal investigators must be skilled in the use of technology to detect crime and must be adept at finding evidence of crimes the technology contains."
In 2002, the Office of the District Attorney of Lancaster County partnered with the Pennsylvania State Police becoming part of the Central Region, Pennsylvania Computer Crimes Task Force. In May, 2011, recognizing the ever-increasing demand for the services of investigators skilled in the use of computer technology and computer forensics, the DA’s office formed the Lancaster County Computer Crimes Task Force.
"Progressive and forward thinking, the Ephrata Police Department recognized the importance of the initiative and through Detective Bradley Ortenzi, became part of the Task Force," added Stedman. "Detective Ortenzi completed training in peer-to-peer investigation allowing him to engage in proactively seeking out sexual predators that use social media on the Internet to find innocent children to sexually exploit, or to find like-minded individuals with whom to share child pornography. Detective Ortenzi has spent countless hours identifying suspects and gathering evidence that has allowed criminal investigators to bring criminal charges against numerous individuals engaged in the sexual abuse of children who would otherwise have gone undetected. In recognition for his outstanding service and dedication to protecting the citizens of Lancaster County, especially our children, Detective Ortenzi is awarded the District Attorney’s Award of Merit."
Detective Ortenzi addressed council following his commendation.
"This effort is not well known within the county," said Ortenzi. "Lancaster County has really grabbed the reigns when it comes to child pornography detection, with the support of District Attorney Stedman. We can do what we do with their help. The predators actually make it easy; we are doing quite a lot to catch these predators."
Ortenzi also thanked Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey for his support in allowing him to participate in the county task force.
Stedman, for his part, also had glowing remarks about the local police department and its leadership.
"I want to commend Chief Harvey and the Ephrata Police from me as the DA. They do an important work. Throughout my entire 20-year career, I have consistently been impressed with the men and women of this department. And the leadership of Chief Harvey, his understanding of the criminal justice system and how this task force works, has been instrumental in its success."
Harvey was also present at Monday night’s meeting. At the top of his agenda was to recognize retiring police officer Doug Heilman, after 26 year of service with the Ephrata department.
"One of the biggest honors I get to do is see men and women who get their rewards. Too often we lose officers in the line of duty. Officer Heilman served 26 years with honor."
Among the items presented to Heilman includes his retirement shield and plaque. He also received commendations from State Senator Mike Brubaker, along with a special proclamation issued from the floor of the state senate recognizing Mr. Heilman’s service to the community.
"It has been an incredible life experience to work here in Ephrata," said Heilman. "It has been incredible – the quality of the officers. We’ve enjoyed good community support, good support from council and the district attorney’s office. I’m proud to have (Stedman) as my DA. I deeply appreciate it all."
Police Officer Paul Moore was also recognized for his meritorious service in overseeing and directing the EPD Evidence and Property Room. Officer Moore has overseen several advancements and improvement within this essential police function.
"When I got here, we had a good evidence and property room," stated Harvey. "With Officer Moore’s help, he oversaw the design and expansion of the evidence room. He also helped to oversee the BEAST program (where items are now bar-coded for better tracking). Yearly audits always come back flawless and we’ve gotten better at returning evidence to owners."
Harvey explained why this effort is so important.
"A lot of our cases hinge on the quality and integrity of our evidence," stated Harvey. "But now because of guys like Paul, who have invested so much in that room, that is intact."
Chief Harvey himself was also recognized Monday night for his efforts on behalf of the community. LEMA (Lancaster Emergency Management Agency) Director Randy Gockley was on hand to present Harvey with professional certification for emergency management from PEMA (the state organization).
"This is the third in a year I’ve been here to present Chief Harvey with his professional certification," noted Gockley. "Normally, this takes seven plus years to achieve and less than 5 percent will ever obtain this. This was completed in 18 months incorporating vast emergency management experience and training."
Local resident Brenda Martin addressed council on a number of concerns. Following up last week’s meeting and subsequent newspaper article, she presented a view of those who hang out at the Whistle Stop Plaza as being benign and of no threat at all.
"It is outlandish that you would allow that article (in last week’s Ephrata Review) to be printed," said Martin. "I know those kids and that’s outrageous."
Council member Good, who has taken the lead on spearheading possible solutions to concerns about the plaza addressed those concerns.
"We’ve had complaints from business and citizens and visitors to Ephrata coming through our Chamber of Commerce and other venues," said Good. "The language is atrocious and unacceptable and I can vouch for it. The tales were removed because they were no longer acceptable for public use due to the pictures and graphic, obscene graffiti which basically ruined them. I personally counted only seven cigarette butts in the container but about eight on the ground. This is our central business district. We have a business center there and surrounding businesses. If even the perception by people is that they are afraid that’s unacceptable. The drug part was reported to us; whether its true or not, it was reported by concerned citizens in the community. We are not against kids; that’s not the intent. But if we have unacceptable behavior, especially in our downtown that needs to be addressed."
Good invited Martin to attend both the Public Safety and Community Services Committee meetings in the coming weeks to provide insight and feedback toward a solution to the problem.
State Police barracks
In other news, council voted unanimously to execute a lease termination agreement for the property at 21 Springhouse Road, between the borough, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of General Services and the Pennsylvania State Police. This is for the property which formerly housed the Ephrata barracks of the Pennsylvania State police.
Under the agreement, the borough would receive a $112,000 lump sum payment to release the state from their lease agreement. This would then free up the borough to more aggressively seek out either a new tenant or purchaser for the property. And, since the borough as already been responsible for the insurance, taxes and maintenance on the property, the borough would not be incurring any additional costs as a result of the agreement.
Some on council had been concerned about that possibility. Councilman Tony Kilkuskie pressed that point at last week’s working session. But upon further investigation in the past week, Kilkuskie indicated he could now support the measure.
"I asked at work session about what additional expenses the borough would be incurring with the end of the lease," stated Kilkuskie. "I found this is not a ‘triple net,’ meaning that under the lease, the state police would not have been paying taxes, insurance and maintenance, so we are not taking on those additional expenses since we were already paying those expanses already. So my concerns were significantly diminished and I can now support this."
Borough Manager Bob Thompson added that the borough would continue to seek a new tenant until perhaps March of next year when the original lease would have run out.
"Rather than go through an auction or sealed bid process to sell the building, we wanted to lease it and have those funds coming into the general fund," stated Thompson.
For additional information on Ephrata Borough, visit ephrataboro.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your comments, questions and suggestion via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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