LANCASTER – Skateboarding on sidewalks, deputy response times, and scams that target the elderly were just a few of the issues raised at Coffee with a Deputy Thursday morning.
The monthly public meeting is designed to create a comfortable atmosphere where residents can meet with deputies from the Lancaster Station to address problems in their community.
About a dozen seniors attended Thursday’s session at the Lemon Leaf Café, which focused on senior safety. Sergeant Theresa Dawson and deputies Billy Cox and Michael Rust attended the meeting on behalf of the Lancaster Station.
Seniors from the Arbor Grove Apartments, near downtown Lancaster, said the complex had changed from senior-only housing and now the younger tenants were causing problems.
“They’re having a problem with residents not securing the gates and actually damaging the gates,” Rust said. “We’re going to work with their management to make sure that those gates can be kept secure all the time because seniors are not feeling safe.”
Rust gave the seniors tips for securing their windows and doors.
“You can place a piece of wood, like a stick, in the window to keep people from opening it,” Rust said.
Seniors were also given information on how to prevent and report elder abuse, identity theft, and various scams that target the elderly.
There is a scam going around where con artists call an elderly man or woman and claim to be the victim’s grandchild in need of money for an emergency, Rust said.
“When the victim picks up the phone, the person says ‘Grandma?’ and then the victim calls a grandchild’s name,” Rust said, adding that the con artist then pretends to be whomever the victim refers to in order to bilk the victim out of money.
“Their generation is very trusting so they’re extremely vulnerable to these scams.” Rust said. “It’s a big problem.”
Sgt. Dawson discussed deputy response times.
“We never want people to feel that they are not a priority, because they are,” Dawson said.
She said, while every call was important to the Lancaster Station, calls that reported a crime in progress or a life threatening emergency were given priority over routine calls in which the incident had already taken place.
Dawson said deputy response time on routine calls often varied, depending on the time of day, the amount of urgent calls, and other factors.
Lancaster resident Betty Jane asked if deputies could stop youngsters from riding their skateboards on the sidewalk.
Business owners on private property must post signs prohibiting skateboarding on the property, Dawson said. If skateboarders were creating a hazard on public walkways, then deputies would become involved, but it’s difficult to catch the skateboarder in the act, she said.
“As soon as they see a black and white coming down the street, they’re off their skateboards,” Dawson said, adding that parents could do a better job of supervising their children.
“We have children that are running amok throughout the city and we have law enforcement raising the children,” Dawson said.
Retiree Fay Butler, who relocated to Lancaster in 2003, said the recent rise in crime was probably due to the influx of low-income housing residents.
“Back in 2004 or 2005, we were told that we wouldn’t get the projects… but a lot of people that are coming out here now are people from the projects,” Butler said, adding that people from all races fell into this new group. “They’re bringing the bad behavior here, the pants dragging around the butt and the break-ins.”
Butler said deputies were doing an excellent job in stemming the crime wave.
“I give them an AAA+!” said Butler. “They put their lives on the line for citizens who don’t care about them and they don’t get paid enough.”