Gettysburg Police Chief Rob Glenny says his office has a “constant flow of work” as it deals with an increase in crimes in the borough ranging from opioid-related DUIs to thefts of political yard signs.
Glenny said the number and quality of demonstrations in the Gettysburg square was a problem as election day approaches. “The demonstrations seem to be getting a little tenser. We’re seeing a lot more vulgar language,” said Glenny.
Glenny said his force has recently issued citations for harassment and obscene language to both demonstrators and counter protesters.
Obscene language can fall under a statute that makes it a violation to engage in a behavior that “creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by acts that serve no legitimate purpose,” said Glenny. “If a mother or child is walking by you’ve created something they don’t want to listen to.”
Glenny said the demonstrators were not getting the required permits, but it was difficult to cite them for it. Glenny said if there are more than 30 people in the demonstration a permit was required, but it was difficult to accurately count because an organizer might claim they did not know more than 30 people would show up, and people might claim they are not part of the same demonstration as others. “Proving stuff like that beyond a reasonable doubt proves difficult,” Glenny said.
Glenny said the department would issue a citation for failing to have a permit if it could identify an organizer who knew there were going to be more than 30 people attending.
“We’re trying not to trample on anyone’s first amendment rights. I’m trying to walk a tightrope and someone’s shaking it at each end,” said Glenny. “Things seem to be coming to a head. I hope election day will calm things down.”
In terms of the loud and continuous car horn honking that has plagued Gettysburg for weeks, Glenny had no real ideas. “It’s been both sides doing it. I don’t want to stoop to citing people. We don’t have enough people to cite everyone.”
Glenny said the police would be ready to assist if there are violations on election day. Glenny said police officers have to stay at least 100 feet away from the polling places unless they are themselves voting, and that the Adams County Constable is in charge of election security. “We’ll respond if we are called by an election official, otherwise we’ll stay out of the way,” said Glenny.
Glenny said the department had received about ten complaints of stolen political yard signs. “We’re seeing signs fly off yards from both sides,” said Glenny.
Glenny said the department had made an arrest in a sign stealing case last weekend. The person was intoxicated, charged with theft, and will be summonsed into court on misdemeanors.
Glenny said the department had received 66 domestic disturbance calls year to date, which is about 20 percent higher than last year.
“Our drug cases are also on the increase. About 70% of our traffic DUI violations are drug related. They’re harder for the officers to detect. It’s alarming,” said Glenny.
Glenny said the force was doing the best it can given it is short-handed by two officers compared to what it had last year.