Coatesville, Chester County

Coatesville City Council will on Sept. 29 launch a series of quarterly community roundtable discussions about community policing and social justice issues.

The loud, firm and sometimes opposing comments made by City Council members about policing during their remote Sept. 14 council meeting indicate the roundtables should be lively.

“Lawlessness in Coatesville is not an option,” said Council Vice President Carmen Green, speaking against gun violence following the Aug. 27 murder of Warren Curtis, and three separate incidents in the city involving gunfire on Sept. 10. No one was injured during the shootings, although in one of the incidents bullets did hit a parked car and occupied residence.

“Not having a police department is not an option,” said Green, adding that while it hasn’t always been the case, Coatesville has “a great police department.”

 Council member Ed Simpson angrily took newly sworn-in Council member Nydea Graves to task for publicly criticizing the police department on her Facebook page.

On Facebook, Graves accused police officers of using excessive force during a Sept. 6 incident during which officers were allegedly surrounded and injured while responding to a noise complaint at the home of Richard Brown Jr. on East Chestnut Street. Brown and Tyler Rivera were subsequently arrested for allegedly assaulting officers and resisting arrest.

“It was very irresponsible for you to make those comments about a department you oversee,” said Simpson, accusing Graves of being “unprofessional.”

According to police Chief Jack Laufer, body cameras recorded the entire incident and he is asking the community to let the case proceed through the judicial system so the law may be applied “fairly and without prejudice.”

City Manager James Logan said some of the more than 300 people who marched in the June 4 peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd were Coatesville police officers. Laufer publicly condemned the actions of police involved in Floyd’s death.

Logan said children could have been injured in the three recent shootings, and asked interested community members to join together for the first roundtable, set for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at an outdoor location to be announced on the city’s website.

In other business, City Council approved a $1.468 million contribution, up 1.5%, to the police, firefighter and nonuniform employee pension plans.

In downtown redevelopment issues, Logan reported work on a new train station is expected to begin in February 2021. Simpson expressed weariness over the construction delay of the anticipated Arooga’s Sports Bar and Grille to be built in the former Coatesville Cultural Society building, saying he didn’t want the city to lose the liquor license.

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