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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Juden's first year was enjoyable, challenging

Sunday, April 7, 2002

(Photo)
DPS Director Drew Juden
SIKESTON -- Unrest in the west end, standoffs, manhunts, seeing a fellow officer shot and large fires are all encounters Drew Juden has faced in his first year as director of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. Yet, through it all, Juden has thrived in the role.

"It has been an action-packed year," Juden said. "It hasn't been without challenges. Even though I had worked here for a long time, this position provided its own set of challenges and problems to be addressed."

Juden was promoted from his captain position to director last April after serving with Sikeston DPS since 1978. However, he didn't have to wait long to prove himself.

Just a few weeks after being named director, unrest broke out in the west end with several incidents of large crowds gathering and throwing objects such as bricks and bottles at each other.

"Some in the community felt it was a test for me to see how I would handle situations," Juden said.

The situation was handled with care and there have been no incidents like them since, showing many that Juden could handle the job.

"My biggest challenge was to motivate the employees and overcome some of the preconceived ideas or notions that employees and some members of the community had about my abilities to do this job," Juden said.

One of the highlights under Juden's reign has been the drop in the number of major crimes. According to the crime report DPS submits to the FBI, major crimes were down 20 percent in the past year.

"That shows the dedication and professionalism of the people working here," Juden said. "I didn't go out and make the arrests, they did."

Part of the decrease in major crimes is the implementation of a narcotics unit.

"Right now, I have two guys and (drug investigations) is all they do," Juden said. "It's not that we've ignored (drugs) in the past, but now that we've got two guys doing it, they can get into groups and infiltrate organizations.

"But even though I have two guys (investigating drugs) day in and day out, it allows the rest of the department to do other things. It is a team effort and that philosophy has been embraced by the other members of the department."

However, the police division is not the only part of DPS that has thrived under Juden. The fire division is equally impressive.

Since Juden became director, the fire division has opened the new fire station.

A new ladder truck it received helped save some of downtown Sikeston in early February. The fire started in the Sikeston Frozen Foods building and without the quick response of the fire division and the second ladder truck, more downtown buildings could have been lost, he said.

"That truck paid for itself that day," Juden said. "Without it, Sikeston would be missing one block of buildings."

While the past year has brought success, Juden hopes to continue improving DPS.

"I think the community is at a turning point," Juden said. "The future holds what we want it to hold."

Juden said the community is growing geographically and with it comes the need for a new building for their headquarters and the need for increased staffing in the narcotics unit.

No matter what the future might hold, Juden will take head on whatever challenges present themselves.

"It has been an absolute, total enjoyment," Juden said. "While it hasn't been without its challenges it has been the most enjoyable time of my life."