Lepanto City Council purchases drug dog, discusses drug problem at meeting

Friday, August 22, 2003

In its meeting Monday night, the Lepanto City Council voted 8-0 to purchase a drug dog for the city and heard from residents who stated that they are fed up with illegal drugs in their community.

At the meeting, held at the Lepanto District Courtroom, the council heard from residents who stated that illegal drugs have taken over the city and that the city's police department has not done a good job in going after drugs and enforcing laws, like curfews. Kevin Truelove, a spokesman for the group stated, "We have a drug problem in Lepanto. Watching it go on is no solution to the problem. People are sick and tired of seeing it go on." Police Chief Raymond Oakes told the audience that keeping children away from illegal drugs begins at home and that parents should teach their children against using drugs. Citizens at the meeting also stated that enforcing the city's curfew and possibly fining parents for repeated violations might help to keep young children off the streets late at night and possibly stopping drug use among young people.

Both Lepanto Mayor Dale Dunlap and Police Chief Raymond Oakes stated to the audience that work is being done on the issue, but that residents may not see the work done. Dunlap stated in the meeting that it takes time for drug investigations to take place and that the recent investigation in the Tri-Cities area, entitled "Operation Clean Sweep" took nearly 18 months to complete and involved multiple law enforcement agencies. Dunlap also suggested to residents in attendance that they contact or write their state legislators about the issue of illegal drugs. In the short term, Oakes stated that individuals who wish to help write down tag numbers, make and model of vehicles and traffic patterns of individuals who frequent drug houses. Oakes also suggested individuals videotape suspected drug activity and turn it over to the police. Citizens at the meeting suggested several ways to stop illegal drugs. They include: (1) enforcing the city curfew; (2) creating a Parent's Patrol; (3) use a drug dog at least twice a week at EPC; (4) harass drug dealers and drug users; (5) don't do business with drug dealers; (6) using religion as a motivating factor to stop illegal drugs and (7) impounding vehicles of individuals arrested on drug-related charges.

As for the drug dog issue, the council voted 8-0 to purchase the dog, if funds are available. During the meeting, at least six individuals contributed at least $100 apiece that will go toward purchasing the dog. Fire Chief Damon Tyler suggested in the meeting that at least half of the price of the nearly 7,000 tickets that will be sold at the Terrapin Derby this year to go toward the purchase of the drug dog. The city is also taking donations from the public that will go toward the purchase and training of the drug dog.

In other action, the City Council:

* voted 8-0 to purchase a police car for the city. The city will be financed by a local bank for the city.

* voted 8-0 to approve the minutes and financial statement for the city of Lepanto for the month of Aug. 2003.

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