Last year, a joint effort between the Montgomery County district attorney’s office and the Pottstown Borough Police Department — dubbed Operation War Ready — culminated in 34 arrests following gang-related crime in Pottstown Borough.
“Brief sketch: Two rival drug factions, clashing in the borough, a lot of gun play,” said Pottstown Police Chief Richard Drumheller.
On the heels of that partnership, Pottstown and the county district attorney’s office are teaming up in a more permanent fashion through a new “community prosecution unit,” located in the borough.
District Attorney Kevin Steele said the new initiative is cost neutral, simply shifting around where the DA’s office does existing work.
“Our most busy areas have been Pottstown and Norristown,” he said. “The cases are coming to the [assistant district attorneys] one way or another.”
Pottstown, a borough in western Montgomery County just shy of 23,000 people, experiences higher rates of certain violent, drug and property crimes than the rest of the county and most of the state.
Community prosecution operates on the assumption that embedding prosecutors in high-crime areas strengthens relationships with residents and helps get repeat offenders out of communities.
Drumheller said closing the distance between police and prosecutors will also save victims and witnesses time when contributing to a case.
“Pretrial preparation, interviews … that can occur right out here in Pottstown,” he said. “For us, to have something out here, it makes you feel part of a team.”
Steele said the violent-crime rate is going down in the borough, and the goal of the new unit is to continue that trend.
Three attorneys from the DA’s office will share staffing of the new outpost at the Pottstown Police Department headquarters every Wednesday, adding additional hours during the week as needed.