Our Neighbor’s Keeper

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Levittown Community Action Coalition continues its mapping project.

A friend of mine called me from out of town, upset because she is sure that a house two doors from her home is being used to sell illegal drugs. She’s noticed the constant traffic to the door and even seen a transfer of money and what she presumes to be drugs. She wanted to call the police but was afraid that if word got out that she turned them in that she or her family would be hurt.

I encouraged her to seek out her police department’s anonymous tipline and report what she has seen. She did this and called me back several days later to report that “nothing has been done.” What she didn’t know is that police departments welcome tips about illegal activities in our neighborhoods, but that they can’t just bust a door down on the say so of a neighbor. They need to build a case first and this takes time. It was also possible that the police were already aware of the activity and were involved in some undercover work so that they could discover the wider network that was supplying the drugs to my friend’s neighbor’s house. I encouraged her to be patient for a time.

In Levittown drug overdoses happen at least one or twice a week, according to our local first responders. Contrary to the popular imagination, most of the overdosing people are adults, not children or teens. Because of the dedication of our ambulance corps, fire and police departments, most people who overdose are revived, and their lives spared one more time. One of the biggest frustrations of the rescue squads is that when they arrive, the others in the house don’t tell them at first that drugs are involved. Instead they say things like, “Mom fell.” or “My uncle fainted.” If you are ever in this unfortunate situation, please be sure to immediately tell about the drug use. No one will be arrested for telling what’s happening. People die because their friends and family don’t tell.

Surely there is something more we can do besides hoping that this crisis will go away on its own. Levittown now has an action coalition of community members including counselors, first responders, great support from the Island Trees School district and the Levittown Schools, St. Bernard’s, the library, elected officials, Girl Scouts, St. Joseph’s Hospital, youth sports groups and many more. Among the projects undertaken is a “community mapping” project that provides a way for members of the community to report areas of concern with regard to drug use and underage drinking. Whether it is parks or sumps or alleys behind stores, we’re getting a clearer picture of areas of concern. But the community mapping is also about safe places too, and we’re looking to list where community members can get support as well as find wholesome activities to be involved in.

Perhaps you’ve participated in the community mapping project at a school library, sporting event, etc. If not, here’s your chance. Whether you have a concern about a neighborhood house that you suspect is fostering drug activity or whether you find drug paraphernalia when you take your grandchild to a local park, you can be part of the Levittown Action Coalition’s mapping project online during the next two weeks. Go to ADULT SURVEY — this survey is completely anonymous and is for adults. First there are some simple questions about your own experience and the last few questions let you indicate both areas of concern and areas of support. The coalition expects to publicize the results of the mapping project in a couple of months after analyzing the data that’s collected. And if you would like a teen to offer insight into what’s happening around town, you can ask them to fill out the anonymous youth survey here: YOUTH SURVEY

Our neighborhoods are filled with knowledge of what’s happening. By pooling that information we’ll be able to get a picture of what we can do to foster healthier living and slow the scourge of addictions that is ruining so many lives.

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Pastor of St. Bernard's since 2013 and known for his engaging homilies and community presence, Father Ralph Sommer is also a treasured columnist for the Levittown Tribune.

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