SHAMOKIN - A Shamokin resident who witnessed a drug deal take place in broad daylight on Market Street said it's becoming a common occurrence.

"I was shocked and very disturbed to see this happening, and they knew I was watching," said the resident in an anonymous letter to The News-Item.

The person said neighbors have seen vehicles pulling in and the occupants of the house running out, exchanging something at the driver's side window and the car then leaving.

Shamokin City Police Chief Edward Griffiths said Tuesday it's a bit perplexing that someone would inform the newspaper rather than his department, but the brazen activity doesn't surprise him.

"If someone needs money bad enough, they will do whatever it takes," Griffiths said.

The Market Street incident wasn't the only one last week in which a drug deal was witnessed by neighbors. There was a similar occurrence in the Academy Hill section of the city. In that case, police were notified.

Griffiths said that's what should happen.

"Anyone with any information can either call the police station or the county's 911 center at their non-emergency number, 988-4539, and ask to speak with an officer," Griffiths said. "They will call back; no information is too small."

Griffiths said it was a tip from the public, in fact, that helped police capture Terrance Giddings, of Philadelphia, and arrest him on drug charges last month. More charges were filed against him and three Shamokin residents on Monday.

Griffiths gave credit to Shamokin Cpl. Bryan Primerano for his work on the case.

"Bryan is a bloodhound when it comes to that stuff," the chief said. "We also have the resources of the Northumberland-Montour Drug Task Force, the state Attorney General's office, county District Attorney Tony Rosini and coroner Jim Kelley to assist in our investigation."

DA hotline

Since the mid-1990s, Rosini has maintained a hotline for residents to call and anonymously give information on suspected drug activity. The number is 1-800-DRUG-TIP (378-4847).

He said the hotline gets regular calls and has resulted in several arrests.

"There are many times that the information that someone calls in is the vital piece of the puzzle that police need to make an arrest," Rosini said. "Everything that gets called in is investigated."

Tough on drugs

Northumberland County's efforts to combat the drug problem are becoming well-known, Griffiths said.

"Even the arrest we just made, the gentleman from Philadelphia, said he knew that we were tough on drug dealers here," Griffiths said. "In the past, they saw a small town and think we were Andy and Barney from Mayberry, but the word is getting around."

Still, that reputation doesn't mean law enforcement does not need the public's help.

"Our eyes can't be everywhere," the chief said. "Even something small, like a hunch someone has, or a license plate number, could be something significant."

Rosini added, "If we all pitch in and help out, we can make our community a better place to live."