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Block Watch Seeks Support

South Side church campaign helps raise funds for new fingerprinting device.

For years, the Easton Block Watch has been fingerprinting/photographing the city's children as a precaution in case they ever go missing.

The problem is that the equipment they use might actually predate the Block Watch.

"Maybe it's from the '60s," said Brian Otto, president of the Block Watch. "It's Polaroid film, which I don't even know if they make anymore."

So Otto turned to his church, the on the city's South Side, for help in raising the roughly $3,500 it will take to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.

On Sunday morning, their campaign was more than halfway there. River of God Pastor Scott Reiman had challenged local churches to hold a special collection for the block watch, and asked his own congregation to contribute. 

They gave $533, and Easton Mayor Sal Panto told the River of God audience he'd match that amount. The Northampton County District Attorney's office had already pledged $1,000. Otto got choked up as he accepted the church's donation.

Reiman said it's important for his congregation to focus on the "very practical needs" of the community as well as their faith, which is why they heard Sunday from Panto, Otto, and representatives from the and Family Connection programs.

Panto stressed the importance of the Block Watch acting as an extra set of eyes and ears for the city police.

"We could have a thousand police officers and that doesn't even give us one on every corner," he said. 

The mayor said this sort of involvement will be important this summer as the police focus on nuisance crimes: loud music, late parties, etc.

"Just let the cops show up," Panto said. "That person's going to think twice about turning their stereo up."

Block watch involvement might be as simple as just keeping tabs on what's going on in your neighborhood, said Lorraine Hendershot, a long-time member of the block watch and the group's treasurer. 

That's how she got involved. "I wanted to make sure I knew everyone in my neighborhood," Hendershot said.

That sort of involvement, she says, allowed the watch to keep tabs on a "drug house" on the South Side. "Sometimes that's all it takes, knowing who's in your community, who's in your neighborhood."

The Block Watch will hold its annual town meeting next Thursday at 7 p.m. at the River of God church, 823 Reynolds Street.

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