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Town May Hold World Cafe to Discuss Murders, Aftermath

Town leaders to meet Tuesday to consider next steps.

The town of Reading may hold another community-wide conversation in late September to address the recent murders of Reading residents.

Charles Robinson, chairman of the Reading Public Schools Committee, said Monday that he planned to meet Tuesday with Camille Anthony, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner, Police Chief James Cormier, Superintendent John Doherty and Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse Director Erica McNamara to discuss what to do next about the recent murders of and .

“We are getting behind this and figuring out what to do,” Robinson said. “Maybe we’re not doing anything wrong. I don’t know.”

Robinson said he, like the rest of the community, was saddened by the crimes—the circumstances of which suggest drug involvement.

Superintendent Doherty said that the district had already planned to focus on the behavioral health of students this academic year and was already considering a conversation before the twin murders rocked the town this month.

The district had commissioned a behavioral heath task force to operate this summer, Doherty said, and he spoke with the district’s staff Monday morning about the murders.

“This isn’t just school. This isn’t just town. This is a community issue,” Doherty said.

The last World Café included a heavy discussion about the town’s artistic presence.

Should another World Café occur next month, it won’t be the only venue for residents to discuss the recent events. Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner said last week that .

Christine August 31, 2011 at 01:57 AM
The Reading Police Department does an excellent job. Having said that I find it disheartening the department does not have a full time drug unit. This incident coupled with the Lawrence incident has exposed Reading's 9/11. The police department simply does not have the street intelligence to link buyer with seller and create a climate where dealers fear the risk of arrest and prosecution, because there is not a full time drug unit assigned to perform that task. I believe it is part economics and part the failure by policy makers to honestly admit that large quantities of narcotics move thru this community. Community leaders do not want to spend the money to create a unit to combat the problem fearing the money spent on a social problem is being thrown into an abyss, and the solution is better solved thru education and rehabilitation. That philosophy may have a place in a Socratic classroom but not in the real world. (Continued)
Christine August 31, 2011 at 01:58 AM
Without strong drug enforcement, this community has allowed heavy street level narcotics to gain a strong foothold. Until the people of Reading demand that a professional drug unit be implemented then the problem will continue and the 50+ overdoses (Many saved by narcan by our excellent Fire Department EMT's on scene) each year will continue to go unreported. The Police Department has an excellent Chief that is committed to community policing. His hands are tied by the policy failures of those running the community and is told to do his best with limited resources. Resources are spent on cigarette stings and underage drinking stings because they yields tangible results for the money spent. Unfortunately that type of policing is just putting lipstick on a pig while Oxycontin and Heroin dealers have become entrenched in the community. To see those entities engage in turf wars in this Municipality has brought the element of violence to our community never seen before. If the community continues to support the status quo in Law Enforcement tactics then be prepared to expect these incidents to repeat themselves. If the community throws it's collective weight behind the Police Department and supports the initiative to create a viable and effective drug unit then dealers will be targeted like they never have before. Dealers need to know that they are being targeted. Right now they simply are not!
A. Horch August 31, 2011 at 02:07 AM
and some of the parents you mention are on the BOD of FORF! I won't mention the specific team, but the Girls are not immune from this problem. How about Fall sports don't start until someone starts talking? Like in the old days when the teacher would punish the whole class until someone confessed or got their ass kicked after school.
Karl Weld August 31, 2011 at 03:13 AM
Chris, excellent point. What I'd like to know is how active is our police dept. with the Southern Middlesex Drug Task Force. I've Googled the task force and have come across multiple links to raids and arrests in Wilmington, Woburn, Burlington, Stoneham. Local police in joint actions with the Drug Task Force. Nothing comes up in Reading. If the police know who's dealing and where they're dealing from then why aren't we seeing the arrests like in some other communities? If we don't have our own drug unit, you'd think we'd be leaning on the Middlesex Drug Task Force to pick up the slack. Especially since it appears we have a bigger drug problem than I was aware of before the Ronan murder.
Hammertime August 31, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Great points Chris & Karl! The police know who the people are if many who post here obviously do,their hands are tied byt he BOS who want to create more committees to study the problem while kids continue to get hooked and die as a result. RCASA is headed by all people who are paid town employees.IE Chief, Superintendent and selectpeople. It is a sweet way to cover it up as no one will be bold enough to speak the truth or they risk loosing their job. As a community we need to be vocal and demand action. I would love to see the K-9 unit drug team randomly check the lockers and schools. The sheriffs dept has k-9 as does the State Police, Why can we not utilize them? Why do we need to have a World Cafe? we know what the problem is demand action from the town leadership and hold them accountable or they can be replaced
Karl Weld August 31, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Hammertime, my point was not to point fingers at the police department. After going through votes on the budget as a Town Meeting Member I know how tight money is right now. Resources are maxed out. That being said, if the police department doesn't have the resources necessary to handle this problem on their own I would hope that they would reach out to the regional Drug Task Force, the State Police and the local DEA for assistance. Everyone I've talked to seems to indicate that the dealers are known to police. If this is the case what is preventing more aggressive action? It's not a policy directive from the BoS. That would be insane. I have policy disagreements with some on the Board, but I hardly think they would prevent the police from doing their job in this case for the sake of preserving the image of the Town. These people live here and raise children here too.
Christine August 31, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Karl.....That is a quick fix.....Then the specialized units leave.....We need sustained intell because they players involved come and go.....Right now the heat is on and the dealers will lay low....This was a perfect storm waiting to happen.....From the cops I have spoken to no one knew the players involve in the Ronan killing...They knew the names but did not have the intel regarding their comings and goings...One way to judge a drug problem in a community is to contact the EMT's on the ambulance and get rough estimates on the number of saves (narcan hits) in a year. It is not an official statistic. Then contact food and drug on the amount of fatal overdoes each year from the individual municipality. That would give you an idea of the depth of the problem. Police in marked cruisers have little effect on the drug trade. It bothers me when I hear people refer to Reading as Fitchburg with a Jordan's funiture!
Karl Weld August 31, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Chris, quick fix or not, it's a start until Reading gets its own drug unit. And we should get our own drug unit. And if some feathers get ruffled up on Oakland Rd. because of a new focus on getting serious about this problem then so be it. I'd rather have drug-free, living graduates than championship trophies.
Christine August 31, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Donna.....I can see how upset you are and well intentioned. There is a culture among the 18 - 30 crowd that drugs are simply accectable in your municipality. The problem is that there is a special relationship between drugs and (guns) violence. When you have drugs the other is present. Respectfully, your meetings need to develope a grassroots effort to force government officials to create a full time viable drug unit that can develope intelligence and systematically target narcotics dealers. The Town you call Reading is not a town anymore. Reading is a small city equidistant from Boston, Lynn, and Lawrence. It's proximity to Routes 93, 95, 28, & 129 are a narcotics wholesalers dream. In 26 minutes you can go from Reading to Charlestown on a train without ever getting pulled over by the police. Reading geographically is a natural port of call for Heroin and Oxycontin distribution. Reading is known among drug dealers as "Heroin Alley" as Routes 129 and 28 connect Lynn and Lawrence. Your meetings are important but need to address these issues. Reading is now being referred to as Fitchburg with a Jordan's furniture. I hope you succeed with your meetings before your drugs and violence spread to my community and affect my family.
Christine August 31, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Karl....Once the drug culture gets established, and becomes the norm with the 18-30 crowd you will never get rig of it! Reading is has become the "Opium Den" of Middlesex County. Welcome to Fitchburg with a Jordan's furniture!
peter lucci August 31, 2011 at 06:04 PM
"I hope you succeed with your meetings before your drugs and violence spread to my community and affect my family." - Chris Chris, unless you live in a cave, I'm sure that drugs and violence have already spread to your community. BTW, the 1st time you used the Fitchburg w/ a Jordans, it was slightly entertaining...enough already, try another schtick. Before you accuse me of denying that Reading has a serious drug problem, don't bother as I acknowledge that there is indeed a problem.
Christine August 31, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Peter....Reading has more mainstream kids involved in the drug culture than similarly situated communities. That is an opinion. But it is my choice to raise my kids elsewhere to keep them safe and away from that culture. Take a look at the "HIDTA" The high intensity drug trafficking areas..... http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs40/40392/40392p.pdf Do you think it is an unreasonable to suggest a full time drug unit? I did not come up with that slogan. I wanted like to move back to Reading six years ago so my kids could go to school here and play hockey. My wife begged me not to. I am glad she put her foot down. She was right. God only knows what would have happened!
Christine August 31, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Peter....Welcome to "HIDTA" county!!!!
peter lucci August 31, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Geez for a minute there Chris I thought you were going to shed some light on Reading's drug problem with some studies that singled Reading out as the "opium den" of New England, come to find out that HIDTA counties includes pretty much every heavily populated county in the New England, with the exception of Norfolk County. That's quite a leap you took. I'm glad that your wife put her foot down too.
Christine August 31, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Thank you Peter for helping me prove my point!
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Charles...a little off subject but I hardly think any of our police or firefighters would be eligible for "affordable housing" in Reading. Maybe teachers who are grossly underpaid.
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 09:27 PM
The differing opinions above certainly do not help the problem. Let me be clear to ALL residents in Reading. There are drugs readily available for your child to purchase, as there was in the 70s & 80s when I saw it 1st hand. NO one person or town employee ( I figure this will cover police, etc) can protect your child. Only YOU can by informing your child of the dangers, checking your kids whereabouts at ALL times & NOT being their friend. I say this last part as some of my friends actually think their kids would never lie to them cuz they are "buds". DENIAL. Many kids will never use drugs, some will try & never do it again. Some will get caught in the web. Adults need to know their kids & their friends. Parents are OUTRAGED when random drug testing or school locker searches are recommended. If there is nothing to hide, then do not protest about civil liberties. Be grateful the schools & community cares. Dont try to be the "cool" parent, be the one who cares. Just my opinion.
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Chris, I agree with your comment. Reading used to be a quiet suburb when I was growing up, but the drug availibility has not changed. Has anyone forgot in the 70s the Reading Depot was mentioned in Life Magazine as a place to purchase drugs? No town is immune to drugs. Lets just all agree on that & really know your kids & where they really are & what they really are doing & with who. Good luck & lets hope we lose no more kids to this terrible problem.
Cheryl Buono September 03, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Right on Reading Girl. No matter how much some want to over-analyze it, parenting is a parent's resposibllity.
Reading girl September 05, 2011 at 11:48 AM
I personally do not think it is the 40B projects alone but the greater amount of residents squeezed into a small town. BTW, when I was younger we had murders, rapists & massive amounts of drugs so this is not anything new!!! And not just a Reading problem but a problem of many towns. Lets just all work together to reduce drug usage. I say reduce as we will never eliminate it.
Hammertime September 06, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Reading Girl you hit the name on the head. Parenting is the key to a large number of problems to curb the tide of our youth. We cannot be their friends, they have plenty of them good and bad. It's our job to guide them during these tough and cloudy adolescent years. Bring on the random drug screens and search the lockers rather then having a world cafe to delay getting these issues addressed
Reading girl September 07, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Thank u Cher & Hammertime. Having first hand knowledge helps me with my recommendations. With all due respect to parents, all the guidance in the world does not keep ALL our children safe. Im happy to see so many residents interested in helping our youth. Lets keep this ball rolling!!
Cousin Vinnie September 07, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Reminds me of a quote I read a few years ago. "There are 3 types of people. There are those who say, “There’s a rat in this room, and I’m going to kill it,” A second group says, “There’s a rat in this room; let’s form a committee to figure out how to kill it.” And a third group asks, “Did anyone notice there’s a rat in the room?”
AnonLikeU September 07, 2011 at 07:03 PM
While platitudes seem to help simplify things, I'm not sure they have much of a place with these problems. All I know is that a young man was assassinated in his own home by another one of our own. And the murdered boy was the beloved child and brother of his family as well as beloved friend to many. He was loved greatly , and from the sounds of it, loved greatly back. His life was cut short before he had a chance to right his ship.
Paul Ronan September 07, 2011 at 07:04 PM
My name is Paul Ronan, Joes dad. Would you explain exactly what you mean by a drug hit?
James B. Perry October 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM
DARE DRUGS ARE READINGS ECONOMY JAY
Christine October 13, 2011 at 07:21 PM
There are no drugs in Reading....and we have the addicts to prove it!!
Reading girl October 13, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Christine, your comment is sad but true. This is not a new problem but an ongoing one that now has many former drug users as the parents. Guilt & denial makes it even harder for these same parents to say "Drugs kill".
Charles Towne February 15, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I hope you got your wife something nice for Valentine's Day :)
Tom Jeffords February 15, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Let's not forget about the student from Reading who was arrested at the University of New Hampshire for dealing drugs. While at RMHS this student was a member of the Drama Club and the school band. See Reading Patch on November 7, 2011. When can we expect to see the RMHS band leader and head of the drama club undergo a Q and A session in the Patch such as the one the AD had to undergo?

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