Program ID’s elevated risks in community

LEWISTOWN – A new program designed to address community problems before they become policing problems is in the process of taking root in Lewistown.

Several years ago, Lewistown Borough Police Department Chief William Herkert heard about this program, which is based out of Canada, and looked in to whether this might be something to better the quality of life in the borough.

Herkert is quick to point out that this program is not a policing program it’s an “evidence-based program” which focuses on implementing preventive measures to reverse a problem before it spirals of control for an individual or individuals.

This system, known as the “Hub Model” is an evidence-based collaborative problem solving approach that draws on the combined expertise of relevant community agencies to address complex human and social problems before they become policing problems, according to the Canadian Police College.

“They work as a group rather than independently to identify risks in a community,” retired Canadian police officer Brent Kalinowski said.

Kalinowski works for the Global Network for Community Safety, which operates out of Ontario, and travels to various places to jump-start new Hub centers for interested communities.

The Penn State Justice and Safety Institute (JASI) is working with the Lewistown Hub to bring this program to Mifflin County, as well as State College and Abington.

There are 14 agencies currently working together to set up a Lewistown Hub, including Mifflin County Communities That Care.

CTC Director Nancy Records said there has been a lot of support for the program, which she thinks is exactly what the community needs to address potential problems before they become major issues.

Kalinowski said what began in 2010 in Canada, has grown by leaps and bounds and even jumped the pond, so to speak. Glasgow Scotland started a similar program and has seen a dramatic change in crime statistics, as violent acts continue to be on the decline.

Kalinowski rehashed a story involving a 25-year-old Canadian man, who was homeless and police responded to 193 incidents regarding this particular person. Utilizing the multidisciplinary approach of the Hub system, which was in place in that particular community, participating agencies were able to turn his life around by addressing his housing, employment and mental health needs.

Kalinowski explained that a risk driven assessment of potential issues is far more effective than continuing along a path of solely being reactive to problems, after the fact.

“It’s about turning everything on its axis and flipping it over,” he said.

Records said the Lewistown Hub met recently for the first time, identified some situations and developed some teams who will report back to the group as soon as possible.

Records said this fast-acting approach is imperative in halting a particular issue that arises and turning things around for people. She added that the privacy of individuals identified by the group is taken very seriously by everyone.

Agencies currently collaborating in the new Hub model locally include Mifflin County Children and Youth Services, Clear Concepts Counseling/Shelter Services, Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, Juniata Valley Behavioral and Developmental Services, Juniata Valley Tri-County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, Lewistown Borough Police Department, Mifflin County Communities That Care, Mifflin County Probation and Parole Department, Mifflin County School District, Mifflin-Juniata Human Services, SAM, Inc. (“Service Access and Management, Inc.”), The Abuse Network, The Shelter Services, and TIU CEWS (Community Education and Workforce Services)/CareerLink.

“We are reaching out to other agencies, so this list is not final. As other agencies come on board, they will be asked to complete the three-week online training before they join The Hub table,” Records said.