Residents help combat crime

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2007

By Staff
File no-trespassing agreement
Staff Writer
Editor’s note: The names of residents quoted in this article were changed to protect their identities.
Residents of Seventh and Respess streets in Washington have taken steps to combat criminal activity in their neighborhood by signing a no-trespassing agreement with the Washington Police Department.
The agreement means police can arrest someone seen standing on a resident’s property, and it’s meant to deter groups from gathering.
Nancy Smith, a longtime resident of Seventh Street in Washington said strangers gather in front of her house “first thing in the morning and all night.”
The problem started five or six years ago. Smith said, “You can see them out there selling drugs.”
Property owner Mark Williams said “young boys were loitering in the yard,” but since he signed the agreement, he hasn’t had any problems.
Before the agreement was in place, Williams said he had to “go up there and tell them to move,” but they would “step out into the street, and when I would leave they would step back on.”
Williams said now if they step out onto the street, police can arrest them.
Unwanted individuals can be permanently banned from the Washington Housing Authority, Executive Director Marc Recko said. “We have a … no-trespassing policy and work with the police department,” he said.
The housing authority has homes on Respess Street.
Individuals can appeal a ban once a year.
Interim Police Chief Gerald Galloway said police have stepped up patrols in the area “during critical times.”
Galloway said, “We’ve had significant cooperation from citizens. … It’s a simple mission to have a safe neighborhood. Everybody wants that.”