CAN OVERSIZE VEHICLES BE PARKED ON RESIDENTIAL STREETS?

Like all established Boroughs, parking is limited on many streets in Mechanicsburg as there is just not enough space to accommodate all the demands for parking. When an oversized vehicle is involved, this becomes even more critical as safety can be compromised due to limited line of sight visibility.

To address legitimate space and safety issues, Mechanicsburg does have an ordinance prohibiting the parking of oversize vehicles on public streets and alleys in residential districts in the Borough. The applicable section of the ordinance is reprinted below:

The parking of boats, truck tractors, trailers, and trucks except those not exceeding three-fourth (3/4) ton capacity, shall be prohibited on all streets in the Borough of Mechanicsburg which are located in Residential Districts according to the zoning classifications and regulations set forth in the Mechanicsburg Zoning Ordinance, Ordinance No. 869 [See Chapter 27], as amended. Provided, trucks, truck tractors and trailers shall be permitted upon any street in said Residential Districts for the purpose of making deliveries to or picking up goods, wares, merchandise or materials from premises situated upon any such street or alley.

Generally speaking, except for the business areas along Main, York, Simpson and Market Streets, the majority of the Borough is zoned as Residential. The actual Zoning Map of the Borough is available on the Borough Website under the Codes and Zoning section. The Police Department routinely receives calls about this type of parking violation. While the intent of the Police Department is to warn violators and obtain voluntary compliance with the Ordinance, Parking Tickets and/or Citations can be issued for violations. Please be aware of these parking restrictions and make sure you are not in violation.

HOW CAN I DEAL WITH FERAL CATS?

The problem with feral cats is one that continues to be an issue in the Borough. Feral cats are defined as one that has no owner; has not been socialized and lives in the wild.

While some people feed feral cats, it is strongly recommended that you do not do so. In fact, if you do feed or otherwise care for these cats, you may be considered to be responsible for them under the Borough’s Animal Ordinance and face potential fines for the problem they cause, including running at large.

In conjunction with the Humane Society, the Mechanicsburg Police Department does have a limited ability to deal with feral cats. For a fully refundable deposit, the Police Department will loan a live trap cage to any resident wishing to catch a feral cat.

The Humane Society will then neuter feral cats free of charge with a Spay/Neuter Program Voucher. The Mechanicsburg Police Department has a limited number of these Vouchers. If they desire, a resident trapping a feral cat can get a Voucher from us at no charge and take the feral cat to the Humane Society. At the Humane Society, you give them the feral cat to the Humane Society, along with the Voucher. The Humane Society will spay or neuter the cat free of charge. The resident will then retrieve the cat and release it again as the Humane Society will not adopt or euthanize feral cats.

The goal is that the feral cat population will be reduced when they can no longer produce offspring. Such an approach has been successful in other municipalities and we are hopeful for the same result in Mechanicsburg.

WHAT IS THE CRIME RATE IN OUR TOWN?

Like all municipalities, we are not crime-free. We do have significant numbers of petty thefts and vandalism. The good news is that we continue to have very little violent crimes against people. While we do have our problems, all in all, Mechanicsburg is still a good place to live. Our crime statistics are posted monthly on the Borough Website.

WHEN MUST I YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS?

Generally speaking, pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk. At a traffic signal, if vehicles have the green light and are going straight through the intersection, pedestrians are to yield to the vehicles. However, if you are turning on a green light, vehicles must yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk of the street you are turning onto. At places other than a crosswalk, vehicles generally have the right of way.

IS SCAMMING A PROBLEM IN THE BOROUGH?

Without a doubt, various financial frauds related to internet usage are rapidly growing crimes and the Borough is not immune. The scams are too numerous to mention.

Some general internet safety rules would be:

  • If it sounds to good to be true, it most likely is
  • Never give out personal identifying information or credit card numbers to an unknown internet vendor or contact
  • If you receive an unsolicited e-mail advising of a problem with some account you have, do not open the hyperlink in the e-mail. Go to the known website or call the business to see if there is a legitimate problem.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails advising you can make significant money for little or no actual work, won a prize from a contest you have no knowledge of entering, secret shopper, money wire transfers, help someone get money out of a foreign country or a large inheritance from a relative you never knew you had. Virtually all of these are frauds.

WHAT ARE THE SAFETY RULES FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN & BUSES?

When school is in session, it is important to remember that safety of our school children is a top priority.

Generally, when driving, please pay particular attention and use extra caution anyplace where children are present. Children will sometimes forget to look before crossing the street. Because of this, it should be your duty as a driver to watch for their potential mistakes and be able to react in time to avoid tragedy.

Additionally, there are some legal duties that drivers must obey involving school buses and pedestrians. By law on the Borough’s streets, drivers may not pass a School Bus that has its red lights and stop bar activated. Vehicles are required to stop at least ten (10) feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until all students are safe and the bus lights are turned off. Any motorist convicted of violating this law will receive a $100.00 fine, five (5) points on your drivers license and a sixty (60) days suspension. The Police do not have to witness the violation. School Bus drivers may make a report to a police department after the violation has occurred. That report can form the basis for a prosecution. The simple rule to remember is when in doubt, do not pass a school bus, just stop and wait.

Also, vehicles are required to stop and yield the right of way to any pedestrians at a crosswalk. This includes our school children as they make their way to or from classes. The Borough and the School District have a “Safe Routes to Schools” program to promote walking and improve safety. New crosswalk markings, curb cut and sidewalk improvements are all part of the program. Failure to stop for anyone in a crosswalk may result in a fine. School Crossing Guards are posted at key intersections throughout town to help the students safely cross the street. Any motorist who refuses the direction of a School Crossing Guard to stop also faces a fine. In addition to the Crossing Guards, there are student monitors who help other children at less traveled intersections. It is especially important for drivers to be aware of these students and stop to let them do their jobs safely.

In our Borough, walking is a common occurrence. As a driver, you need to drive defensively at all times, but especially when school children are in the area.

WHAT ARE THE RULES REGARDING BICYCLE HELMETS?

When operating a bicycle on any publicly maintained roadway open to people for purposes of vehicular travel, a child under the age of 12 must wear an approved helmet. This same requirement is extended to include children of the same age while riding as a passenger in a restraining seat attached to a bicycle or in a trailer towed by a bike. A child in violation of this law is subject to a fine and costs of up to $100, for which their parents are jointly responsible.

A helmet must fit properly and be secured fast to the child’s head with straps. The helmet must also meet national standards, such as Snell, ANSI, or ASTM.

The Mechanicsburg Police Department would prefer that all bicycle riders wear a helmet, including adults. After all, the age of a person matters little when our head impacts a hard object such as the street or another vehicle.

DOES THE BOROUGH HAVE A CURFEW ORDINANCE?

The Borough does have a Curfew Ordinance.

Generally, it is a violation for anyone under 18 years of age to be on the streets, public property or open businesses between 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM Sunday through Thursday and Midnight – 5:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday. The primary exception to this rule is if the minor is accompanied by a parent.

The Ordinance can be enforced against the minor who committed the violation, their parents or a business that permits minors to be on their premises. The fine can be up to $300.00 for each violation.

While prosecution is not the only option, all minors, parents and business owners are urged to comply the Curfew Ordinance. The Mechanicsburg Police Department has been tasked with enforcing the curfew and we intend to do so.

WHAT IS THE POLICE DEPARTMENT DOING FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM?

Even though terrorist incidents are a national priority and concern, typically, an emerging incident will be managed locally, primarily from the initiation of active hostile actions until one to three days later. There are formidable national and state resources that can and will be utilized in such an event. However, in an actual attack, it is highly likely that what is referred to as the Agency Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) will be a local entity. Regardless of the level of preparedness, it takes substantial time to organize state and federal resources and have them operationally ready to significantly assist or assume management of an event. The first responders to such an attack will be local police officers and other emergency responders. Even localized special units will take time to assemble and deploy to the area of operations. Due to this reality, it is important for all communities to be prepared.

While their impact may go beyond the affected jurisdiction to regional, national or international levels, a terrorist attack is essentially a locally managed event. The broad perspective or what is sometimes referred to as the “50,000 foot view” lies in understanding the basic principles of the National Response Framework (NRF). The NRF is the primary national strategy for counter-terrorism activities. The NRF is a guide for all emergency responders and communities. The NRF incorporates all levels of government, private sector entities and community groups by providing guidance in the various phases of all-hazards incident management, including terrorism. A basic principle of the NRF is to use Tiered Response in which incidents must be managed at the lowest possible jurisdictional level and supported by additional capabilities when needed.

A critical part of the NRF is the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS is a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity by using the Incident Command System (ICS), a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach.

The NRF focuses on four primary phases, all of which require active community participation. The phases are:

  • Prevention: refers to action items that you can take in advance of an incident to help prevent the incident; access the risk of an incident; harden the target; or mitigate the severity or the incident. While no actions can completely eliminate the risk of an incident, appropriate prevention strategies may reduce the scope, severity or duration of the incident.
  • Preparedness: refers to the level of readiness you have to prevent, respond to and recover from an emergency event of any magnitude. Your state of readiness depends on many factors, including assessment, training, vigilance and exercising; as well as pre-event and event coordination with all response elements involved in the incident.
  • Response: refers to the ability to actually marshal resources and actively manage an incident. Response includes personnel, equipment, supplies and support necessary to contain, control, stabilize and resolve an incident. The Response phase can be considered concluded when the emergency has subsided and the transition to normal operations can occur.
  • Recovery: refers to the transitioning from emergency operations to the normal routine of your institution or community. Recovery may encompass substantial efforts regardless of the nature of the incident. The Recovery phase requires the same care and planning as the other phases for managing an incident.

The NRF is the roadmap that will not only guide people in understanding the roles the community responders fulfill, but also how all the necessary pieces fit should fit together in addressing the exceedingly complex problem of terrorism to provide a comprehensive and competent local strategy that fits into the state and national plan.

To accomplish this, the Mechanicsburg Police Department is an active participant with the South Central Task Force (SCTF). The SCTF is a regional All-Hazards Task Force encompassing Adams,Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties. Your Police Department has officers serving on the Law Enforcement Strike Team, SWAT Team and Incident Management Team. All participating officers receive specialized training and equipment at no cost to the Borough. In addition, the skills learned are used to make us more efficient in our normal operations.

While we hope never to have to use the SCTF in a real emergency, you can take comfort in the fact that the Mechanicsburg Police Department is being proactive to help protect our community.