Monday, 14 May 2018 21:24

Citizens Committed Part 1 Featured

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BREWER - Each week, we report stories on drug related crimes, whether it be drug trafficking, overdoses or deaths.

It's one thing to hear about these types of problems on the news, but it's another when you suddenly find the problem happening right outside your door.

Over the past several years, many Maine communities have been combating the drug epidemic. The city of Brewer is no exception.

Now, residents are taking matters into their own hands - to make their city more secure.

Brewer, a city of about 9,500 people, is a piece of the Vacationland puzzle.

But like many Maine cities, Brewer is changing in the eyes of its residents.

According to the Brewer Police Department, drug-related crimes are more of a problem now than they ever have been before, something Doctor Adam Lauer learned first hand.

"I found three used heroin needles on the front lawn of my medical practice," Dr. Lauer said.

Those needles gave the business owner a shot of reality.

"That struck a chord with me, because it made me realize that the problem isn't just in someone else's back yard, it's literally in my backyard," said Dr. Lauer.

Michele Daniels, who's lived in Brewer for decades, shares the same feeling.

"A lot has changed in Brewer itself," Daniels said. "You see there was a drug overdose in the parking lot down the street. That's very hard for somebody who's lived here for so long."

The more people they talked to, the more they found the problem isn't limited to one street.

"You see things like that now that we didn't see in the past," Daniels said.

With the help of the Brewer Police, they decided to act.

In November 2017,  Doctor Lauer created the local Brewer Neighborhood Watch.

"Three or four other close neighbors," said Lauer, "got together with me and we started passing out fliers."

It's illegal to leave fliers in someone's mailbox, so the group simply sticks the orange papers on the resident's door.

Sometimes, that takes some extra effort.

But from one house to the next, each bright note spread a message.

"See something, say something," Daniels said.

"If you see something suspicious, strange or weird, and it makes you feel like something strange is going on, you should think about calling the police," Dr. Lauer said.

The fliers link residents to a Facebook page. Within 2 weeks, the group had grown to 100 strong. Now, it's 220 and counting.

It's become a social network, connecting folks online and in person.

"That's what it's ultimately trying to do," said Daniels. "It's to bring us all together and make sure everyone has that information that will make us all a little safer in this new existence that we have with what's going on."

In part two of Citizens Committed, we speak to city officials, who work closely with the neighborhood watch group, about the impact the group has made on the community.

Kayla Fish

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Kayla joined the ABC 7 & FOX 22 news team in May of 2017. She got into journalism because she loves talking with people, and she's incredibly grateful to share the stories of Mainers throughout the region.

She got her start in broadcasting way back in middle school as a member of a morning announcements TV broadcast club, and her love for the news industry took off from there.

Kayla graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with degrees in broadcast journalism and Spanish. During her time as a student at Penn State, Kayla was an executive producer and reporter for the "Centre County Report", an Emmy award-winning student-run newscast. She studied abroad in Ronda, Spain and traveled to Panama with an international reporting class. Kayla kept busy in college, spending four years working as a student manager in the dining hall.

Kayla grew up in the village of Shawnee-on-Delaware, located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, so transitioning into life in Vacationland was a piece of cake! A self-described winter fanatic, she loves all things snow related, including hitting the slopes on her snowboard. She also likes hiking, kayaking or doing anything outdoors. She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, be sure to stop and say hi!