SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – People in downtown Sharon will soon be seeing a lot more of at least one of their police officers.
The department is once again assigning an officer to a “walking beat” to help have a police presence downtown.
According to police, this will be the first time an officer will walk the beat in downtown Sharon since 2002. A new officer will start patrolling downtown Sharon on foot on January 1 and will patrol from Tuesday through Sunday. All downtown Sharon businesses are closed on Sundays, and many are closed on Mondays as well.
Tuesday was meet-and-greet day as Sharon Police Chief Gerald Smith and Patrolman Adam Zazado introduced themselves to local merchants. Smith said extra patrols are needed in the area because store fronts are filling up again after being largely empty for years.
“I think it makes a presence of a safer community, makes the people want to shop or eat in Sharon, or maybe somebody to open a new business in Sharon,” he said.
Smith joined the department in late 1980s when it still had foot-patrols. After becoming chief, he started hearing from shopkeepers who wanted it back.
“I think this is their community, and I think community policing is the proper way to police,” he said.
Merchants think the idea will give customers a little extra peace of mind.
“If there is an issue, there’s going to be a gentleman very close,” said Bobby Krepps, of Autozone.
Zazado, who has been with the department for seven years, volunteered for the assignment. He said he will handle any concerns that business owners have.
“They see me. They get to know me on a regular basis,” he said. “‘They can say, ‘Hey, I need your help with this.'”
The department said it received about 23,000 calls for service in the past year — a bit more than in the past — and the walking officer will be looking out for people living on the street and other potential problems.
Residents say that they think the foot patrols could help decrease crime.
“Just the story gets out that they’re here, you know. You don’t know what alley they’re going to come out, beside what building, so I think it’ll deter crime down here a lot,” said resident Brad Ashman.