SIKESTON - Lawlessness will not be tolerated in Sikeston and will be dealt with quickly, assured Sikeston Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden.
Juden, speaking to the members of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday, related a recent incident which brought every available DPS officer out to deal with an unruly crowd gathered at the corner of Ruth and Branum streets. Detailing the events, Juden said that evening some 100 residents were in the area, some throwing rocks, bottles and concrete blocks as officers approached.
"This isn't a large city, this is our community and we shouldn't allow this to happen," said Juden, adding it's some 10 percent of the people who create 90 percent of the problems for officers.
To combat such problems requires many agencies working together the DPS chief said. He noted in addition to law enforcement at the federal, state, county and local levels, also involved in curbing violence are such groups as the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority, the City Council, the media and "most of all you, the citizens," he said.
"You don't want to raise your family in this environment and that is why we must fix this," Juden continued.
Proposed solutions by Juden would be the enactment of a nuisance housing ordinance. If officers were repeatedly called to a residence because of criminal activity, the officers could request the house become off-limits and the property condemned.
Also he suggested law enforcement be allowed to impose an emergency curfew. If a lawless crowd gathered, officers would be able to block off the area and declare an immediate curfew requiring all persons to get off the streets.
In addition the city is planning to purchase cameras which will enable the Department to monitor high-crime areas. These cameras as well as cameras in patrol cars will let officers identify criminals, use the film footage as evidence and arrest those who commit crimes, he said.
Juden noted already there are many positives enabling the Department of Public Safety to deal with those who break laws. The municipal court requires bond and has a program of community service as well as jail time for those involved in incidents such as the recently unruly gathering.
"And we continue to have good community support but we can't lose our resolve," he said.
Fielding several questions, Juden noted that while the Northwest Street substation could be manned, it is not actually in a high crime area and would keep officers off the street while stationed at a desk. Also he said the Department has considered parking its mobile command post in high crime areas, but said this would require officers to be on hand guarding the post and also might make it a target for criminals. Many of the troublemakers, he noted, are "transient residents" or those from outside of Sikeston who are attracted to the town for various reasons and remain.
On the upcoming Fourth of July three-day holiday, Juden said, the Department plans to be fully-staffed, keeping all officers on the street, moving in groups to provide a presence and reduce the chance of danger to citizens.
He called on the community to not forget the service provided by Department of Public Safety officers. "They are putting it in on the line for us every day. Remember that when you are at home safe in your bed."
Upcoming activities noted by Chamber Executive Director Missy Marshall included:
* June 27 Golf Tournament to benefit Missouri Delta Medical Center and the YMCA, hosted by First Security Bank.
* The Bootheel Bombers continue their season at VFW Park. Games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
* The next Chamber meeting is July 28 at the Tanner Street Church of God. That evening is the Farmers Appreciation Fish Fry at Aufdenberg Equipment.
* The Red Neck Barbecue is Aug. 13 at the Sports Complex.