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Upcoming crime summit to be closed to public, media

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 09 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2013 05:45:01 PM CST

Curbing crime has become a top priority in Berks County.

READING, Pa. -

Curbing crime has become a top priority in Berks County.

Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. Pat Toomey are set to attend next week's crime summit, but the public and news media will be locked out.

The news came as a shock for businesses and residents in the city, who feel they should have a stake in the discussion.

"It's way out of hand, and someone needs to step up," said Rafael Rodriguez, the manager at Villa Join the Movement on Penn Street. "I think they should hear what the public has to say so we can voice our opinions."

"I feel it should be open to the public because we have public representatives there that are really not connected to the public," said Ed Terrell, a community activist.

The public will not be invited inside the Crowne Plaza, the site of the summit, because of the nature of the discussion. Officials don't want people hearing details about proposed law enforcement strategies, said county officials.

Berks County District Attorney John Adams is leading the effort.

"If we let the criminals know exactly what law enforcement is going to do, our strategies would be less effective," said Adams.

The goal of the summit is to consider resources that can be used to fight against crime in Greater Reading. The agenda will clarify the types of violent crime via trends and statistics, as well as review and vet real strategies and proposals to combat and address these crimes.

"We want to put a lid on violent crime, but we have to get with law enforcement and say, what's the plan, what's the strategy?" said Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt.

Corbett, Casey, Toomey and Adams will make brief remarks following the summit, but the bulk of the conversation will be private.

The crime summit is scheduled for Jan. 18 at 2 p.m.