What can citizens do about litter and crime? Berea residents explore their options

Berea City Council member Bruce Fraley moderated a Thursday discussion on how to address the issues of litter and crime in Berea.

What can citizens do about litter in Berea and how can they help keep their community safe? Those were the main issues discussed Thursday at a community meeting at the Berea municipal building, where approximately 40 citizens gathered. The talk was moderated by Berea City Councilman Bruce Fraley.

Resident Jim Scheff was the inspiration for the meeting after he expressed concern that some roadways and gateways into the city are strewn with trash. Scheff’s comments were initially posted on Facebook, which led resident Martina Leforce to suggest a public forum.

Participants ultimately agreed on forming volunteer committees to organize trash pick up efforts, and near the end of the discussion, a few residents stepped up to spearhead that next step. The discussion also addressed questions about what the City of Berea Codes Department is doing to address issues such as litter management and enforcement of nuisance regulations.

At that point, some citizens referred to the City of Berea web page, which includes a section on codes enforcement.

Codes Enforcement Web Page
Additionally, Codes Enforcement Administrator Amanda Haney has posted guidelines in PDFs that specifically cite city codes regarding litter, property maintenance and other nuisance issues:
Weeds, Trash, Litter Guidelines

Nuisance Ordinance
Though they were only referenced in passing during Thursday’s discussion, the City of Berea also operates two programs to help people keep the community clean. The city sponsors Fall Clean Up and Spring Clean Up weeks in cooperation with the city’s waste disposal contractor. During those periods disposal of certain items is free, while there is a small fee for customers disposing of larger items, such as household appliances. The City of Berea pays for those events.

The City of Berea GIS Department, meanwhile, helps local school groups, sports teams and civic organizations raise money by paying them to organize volunteers to pick up litter along the state highways within city limits. That program typically runs in the fall.

Another pressing concern raised at the meeting was how to address the issue of crime in Berea at a time when drug abuse has been a driver of both burglaries and other types of criminal behavior, such as illegally occupying vacant properties and drug trafficking.

Some citizens noted the Berea Police Department is requesting help in identifying areas where neighborhood watch groups can be established. Prior to Thursday’s meeting, for example, Berea Police Chief David Gregory posted a personal message on Facebook:

“The police department is wanting to create a database of all the neighborhood watch areas in the City of Berea. We ask that if you know of areas, please send us a message, or post a comment and we can reach out to the watch commanders in the associations. Please share and the more information we have we feel is going to help us communicate and build a stronger partnership between the police and community.”

Berea Police Facebook
Additionally, the Berea Police Department is encouraging residents to sign up for the department’s free mobile app, which allows citizens to report crimes, submit concerns about issues like graffiti or vandalism, receive up-to-the-minute alerts, and request a residence watch, among other valuable services.

Berea Police Mobile App
Other public officials who participated in Thursday’s discussion included Council Member Tom Schultz and City Administrator Randy Stone. Following the 90-minute meeting, Fraley said he was pleased with the outcome of the discussion, since there was an orderly exchange of many ideas on some tough issues.

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