Residents On Edge After Town Eliminates Overnight Police Patrol

Monday, November 17th 2014, 6:32 pm
By: News 9

Residents are worried about their safety at night. Less than a week after someone was murdered in the small metro township, elected leaders eliminated the police department's lone overnight patrol.

The body of Anthony Lewis was discovered in his home with gunshot wounds, just days before the town council voted in executive session to suspend the third shift. Now, there is no police officer on duty from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m.

"I'm afraid at night," said Shirley Berger, who, like many residents, has been fretting over the town council's decision. "I've got the gun out and the alarm set."

Berger is considering starting up a petition to reinstate the officer. She feels residents are more vulnerable to crime.

"The criminals that are out there are going to know that we don't have officers on the streets," said Paul Harmon, treasurer for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 153. “So they [criminals] are going to make more attempts to come out and break-in to cars and houses."

Harmon said the council claims they made the decision for financial reasons.

Mayor Dorothy Winston, George Smith, the police liaison, and council members, Theodore Threatt, William Elliott, and Maryann Yarbrough were not at town hall due to the inclement weather, Monday.

News 9 went to their homes, hoping we might be able to get someone to explain the unpopular decision, but they had little of substance to say:

"Oh my God," a male voice at Elliott's residence said, "No, no, no," when we knocked.

When we told Yarbrough we wanted to discuss public safety concerns, she said from behind a closed door, "I wish you would leave. You're concerned about the safety? Well, I am also concerned about the safety."

But residents, like Berger, believe the council's actions are speaking for themselves.

"I am just concerned for myself and the rest of the residents," said Berger.

Harmon said with no officer working the overnight shift, calls for service in the area will be transferred to nearby departments. He said that's a concern because calls in Forest Park will be secondary.

The Fraternal Order of Police is encouraging residents to attend the next town meeting on Nov. 25 at 6 p.m.

None of the town officials returned our calls in time for this report.