Harrisburg police chief kicks off his ‘Chat and Chew’ sessions for 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Harrisburg's chief of police held a meet-and-greet with the people who live in the city, Friday.

It's a chance for people to let the chief know what they think about the police, and for the chief to address their concerns.

Police officers don't pound the pavement like they used to, but the "Chat and Chew" session is a chance for Harrisburg Bureau of Police Chief Thomas Carter to step out in the community as the people came to him.

Harrisburg resident David Shewmon said "I'm very grateful that he is doing this. It's that same desire, we need to start to open our mouths and start sharing what we need to do."

Chief Carter said "policing has really changed. We're just not the guys out there walking a beat, just being concerned about enforcing law. We're concerned about enforcing the quality of life issues."

Harrisburg resident Butch King said "glad he's doing a good job in Harrisburg for us, and he's vocal. He's out in the public. Most officials like to stay up in their offices and just get reports on crime."

Friday's "Chat and Chew" in downtown Harrisburg was the chief's first community meet-and-greet for 2017.

"I like to go into the neighborhoods on Allison Hill to talk to the people out there where they really need the police. At times they complain about police taking a long time getting there," Chief Carter said.

The force has seen a drop in homicides, while a few of those cases remain unsolved.

"We're still working on them, and we're very close to solving them. So, we had fewer, and we had some that were more challenging," Chief Carter said.

It's why some say this chance for the chief to press the flesh with the community proves fighting crime doesn't rest soley on the shoulders of the police.

"I think it's wonderful. We need more interaction with our police force, you know what I mean. A lot of people think the police, oh the cops, but they don't know they're our best friends," King said.

Carter said it can be frustrating to see young people involved in crimes.

One Harrisburg restaurant is doing its part to help police keep young people out crime.

The downtown Harrisburg donated 10 percent of its sales Friday to the Police Athletic League (PAL).

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said "it will go into programming, it will allow them to do all sorts of innovative things with the kids. PAL is already a vigorous organization. The youth are out and about doing things, not just engaging in athletics, but also learning and mentoring and going into the business community and coming into city hall and doing things like that. So, every bit helps."