To the editor:

I feel the need to alert our community about how short handed our police department must be and something desperately needs to be done.

I don't know if it's because our community can't be as competitive when it comes to pay as other communities or what they case may be. I just feel that the situation needs to be dealt with urgently.

A month or so ago, I contacted the police department to report that someone had stolen the gas out of my tank and to request that they make occasional patrols through my neighborhood. It was then the officer informed me that they only had three officers on patrol at night and it would be difficult for them to have time to do patrols. I thought to myself that night shift was when more officers should be on duty because that is when most trouble seems to happen. However, I quickly learned that it wasn't just a problem they were having on night shift.

On Sunday April 23, I learned that day shift has a shortage as well. That day I had witnessed two very young boys (about 7 or 8 years old) bashing in the windows, with bricks, on a Ford F150 that has just recently began sitting on a lot of a house that has been vacant for some time.

I had noticed the truck parked there about two weeks ago and that was when I contacted the police. The truck looked very suspicious, as though it was being hidden behind a barn. After observing it, I thought the truck might have been stolen. I contacted the police but quickly learned that it had not been reported as stolen and the tag on the vehicle was indeed registered to that truck. I was pleased with the response I had received until this past weekend when I witness the two children throwing bricks at it.

I called police and the dispatcher on duty said that she would have an officer come over and speak with me. Meanwhile, she never asked and I never gave her the addresses to where the children lived. After waiting for the officer to show for 45 minutes I decided to call the dispatcher again to ask when the officer was going to come by. That was when the dispatcher then began apologizing to me saying that the officer had made contact with one of the boy's parents. I asked at that time how the officer knew this guy was the parent and how the officer knew where to go without speaking with me first. She began to act a bit confused and I then let her go.

After hanging the phone up, I didn't feel that I had all of my questions answered so I called back and asked for her to send the supervisor on duty over to speak with me. About 10 minutes later the supervisor showed up and I began questioning him about why I wasn't contacted and how did the officer know that the man he spoke to was the child's father. He never really gave an answer, but he said the owner of the vehicle was notified and didn't wish to file charges on the children. I found it hard to believe that someone that owned a newer truck would not be angry at what had happened. I told him that I understood that, but I didn't understand why the officer didn't make his presence to both children nor to myself. I feel that teaching is key and a child that age could probably be scared if an officer explained to them what the consequences could have been if the owner of the truck would have wanted to file charges on them. That was when the supervisor informed me that they only had three officers on duty that day and basically they didn't have time to tend to a situation of this nature. He also informed me that there really wasn't anything they could do to children that age. I explained to him weather or not the owner wished to file charges, they should have still spoke with both children. Because now that nothing was done, these children are going to feel that what they did was okay and next time it may be my own vehicle.

The supervisor informed me that he would check into the how the situation was handled, but I still feel that it is important to inform our community about the shortage and the importance of our officers. I feel that what should have happened with the children could have prevented them from doing it over again. If they don't learn while they're young then we pay the consequences when they are older.

A concerned resident,

Regina Stephens

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