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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2007
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Prostitutes, drugs focus of district meeting

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

Dope fiends, dogs and prostitutes are prowling older sections of town, and Decatur residents spent Tuesday evening voicing their concerns to the city's new police chief at a District 1 community meeting.

Yvonne Elliott told Police Chief Ken Collier and City Council President Billy Jackson, who represents District 1, that she's tired of streetwalkers propositioning her husband at their Sykes Street Northwest home.

"One woman knocked on the door and actually refused to leave until I got up, came to the door and told her, 'My husband don't want you,' " Elliott said.

Archie Elliott said different women approach him each time.

"It happens regularly," Elliott said. "One time I came home, and one woman was leaning against my fence."

The Elliotts, who moved back to the community in January, were among 43 residents who met with Collier and his command staff at the Turner-Surles Community Center.

"We're making cases on the girls and anyone helping them," Collier said. "We're also dealing with the customer base. We're working on strategies to identify the problem where it's at."

Another resident asked if the city could do something about the number of dogs running loose in their community, which received a resounding "amen" from the crowd.

"We're changing the animal shelter and hiring a new director," said Jackson of the council's desire to restructure the department's administration.

Rodney Garrett, who lives in District 4, told Jackson he was disappointed about the council's policy of refusing to let the public speak at council meetings.

"We can't be shut out," said Garrett. "We've got a right to speak our opinion."

Twice each month at City Hall, anyone can have five minutes to address council members in their pre-meeting.

"I understand you can speak in the pre-meeting," Garrett said. "But if you work in the plants from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., not everybody can attend a pre-meeting. You guys are getting paid to listen, and you need to stop this mess."

Jackson told Garrett that he could speak to his council representative Ronny Russell and voice any concerns.

Garrett said Russell isn't always available to take his calls, but Jackson said Russell is an honorable, hard-working councilman who listens to his district.

Mayor Don Kyle urged anyone with specific, law enforcement tips or concerns to call the police department tip line at 341-4636 (341-INFO).

"Don't think that any piece of information isn't important enough to call," Kyle said. "It may take four, five, six or seven calls to put the different pieces together to get a handful of folks off the street."

Collier said police made a drug arrest Tuesday with the help of the tip line.

"We're responding quickly to complaints," Collier said. "We are going to continue to deal with the (drug) problem until we get it broke."

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