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Woman working to make community safer after son's death

SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. -- A Somerset County woman is using her own tragedy to rally several communities and form a county-wide crime watch group. It's something police say they can't be a part of,. but an idea they don't necessarily criticize.

"Enough is enough," said Vonda Probst. "He can't speak anymore, but I can."

Jared Carter was 29 years old when he died of an overdose this past summer. He left behind a fiance and a mother struggling to cope.

"I never thought in a million years that I would be sitting in a graveyard and just losing track of time," said Probst, Carters mom. "I sit there and grieve and realize that it's dark."

Probst is using her sons tragedy to rally the community, making people aware of the drug problem in Somerset County and asking them to get involved in a newly formed crime watch group.

"I want the drug dealers out of Somerset. They are not welcome here," said Probst. "They can go back to Philadelphia, they can go back to New Jersey, New York, wherever they're from. That's where they need to go."

"We're prohibited from endorsing any type of private effort or agency, but we're looking forward to any type of information they can give us," said Somerset Borough Police Chief Randy Cox.

Cox said he does appreciate the awareness and willingness of people wanting to be involved, but reminds them of the boundaries they need to follow.

"They seem to have as their guidelines that they are just there to observe," said Cox. "They're not there to intervene, they're not there to confront."

Armed with pen and paper, Probst said her goal is to have three patrols a day and lend an extra hand to police.

"We just kind of drive around and keep an eye on things, sit certain places," said Probst. "We're just the eyes and ears for police."

The group meets every Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene in Somerset Borough. Anyone in the county is welcome to attend.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times