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Venue set, goals outlined for crime summit

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 12 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 14 2012 05:17:46 AM CST

Venue set, goals outlined for crime summit

READING, Pa. -

A venue was set, and objectives were established for an upcoming crime summit to address to address an outbreak of violence in Reading and the region.

A planning session was held in the Berks County Commissioner's boardroom Thursday.

The county commissioners, the District Attorney and local politicians, including State Senator Judy Schwank and State Representative Thomas Caltagirone, set the table and detailed an agenda for the summit.

Eighteen homicides in Reading and a recent rash of crime recently catapulted the city into the spotlight. Flashing lights, crime scene tape and police scanning the streets for evidence has become an all too familiar sight.

"It sends a chilling effect, and we need to combat violence," said District Attorney John Adams.

A double homicide happened in the city last week. Two men were found shot to death on Franklin Street. On Monday night, a pizza delivery driver was shot in the face on Birch Street.

"This is a call to action. This is something we can't tolerate," said Kevin Barnhardt, Berks County Commissioner.

Thursday's public meeting set an action plan, and set a list of objectives:

- Officials want to bring attention to the issue of violent crime in Greater Reading and Berks County.
- Clarify the violent crime via trends and statistics.
- Review and vet real strategies and proposals to combat and address these violent crimes in the region.
- Identify all resources that can be utilized.

"This can't be about talk. Talk doesn't get anything accomplished," said Commissioner Christian Leinbach. "Failing to plan, is planning to fail."

Adams is leading the charge. He is set to speak first at the summit and will determine a list of speakers.

Adams said he knows he can't reinvent the wheel, but wants to resurrect things that worked in the past.

"I'd like this summit to focus on law enforcement solutions to some of the problems we're facing in Berks County," said Adams.

Governor Tom Corbett is set to attend. Officials decided they want Corbett to speak last so he can hear the proposed solutions.

Leinbach will work with the media and is seeking a PR firm to donate services.

The summit is set to be held at the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing on January 18. An exact time has yet to be announced.

Officials at Thursday's meeting concluded they do not want this summit to end with the question, what's next? A follow up meeting will be determine either at the summit or shortly thereafter.