Increased patrols by the Auburn Police Department have resolved – at least temporarily – a recent problem with unruly teens loitering and vandalizing property in the city’s Heritage Way subdivision.

“I haven’t seen any of the kids around out there,” said resident Charles Sewell, a former city councilman who with a couple of neighbors on July 1 appealed to the city council for increased patrols.

“But the police have been absolutely saturating us, one right behind the other – five, six cars easily a day. They come in at night and when they get to my street, they turn on their floodlights and drive down my street. “We see them, my brother Ray and I. We wave at them when we see them. If I’m in the house, I turn on the light and go out on the porch. We are saying, ‘We see you. We do see you.’” The officers’ subtle battle of the wills with Sewell apparently is due, in part, to the fact that this is not the first time he has complained about inadequate police patrols of his neighborhood.

The last time, he said, the increased patrols were short-lived and that is what he expects to happen this time, once the publicity has died down.

“It will stop,” Sewell said. “In a couple of weeks, they’ll go back to the way they were.”

POLICE DOCUMENT PATROLS

There was no public discussion of the issue at the July 15 meeting of the Auburn City Council and no mention of having a community meeting, as Mayor Linda Blechinger suggested when the issue came up two weeks ago.

However, Chief Fred Brown did give the media a handout that included a letter from Lt. Danny Kerns documenting recent police presence in Heritage Park.

Kern’s letter states that in the six months from Jan. 1-July 8, Auburn officers were in the Heritage Park subdivision 259 times during the day and 280 times at night.

The letter doesn’t indicate which of those calls were for routine patrols and which were in response to residents’ calls for assistance.

Sewell noted that the timeframe used by Kerns included the week of heavier patrols immediately following his council request.

Even with the extra patrols the first week of July, there have been fewer than three patrols per day since Jan. 1, he said.

Not one to accept information at face value, the retired code enforcer said he plans to conduct his own neighborhood survey to see how many times the residents of Heritage Way had noticed Auburn police cars in their neighborhood prior to July 1.

“People are telling me ‘no, they are not here,’” Sewell said. “So somebody is lying.”

EXTRA PATROLS NO DETERRENT TO CRIME?

The chief’s handout also included three pages of excerpts from one or more criminology textbooks actually downplaying the effectiveness of police patrols in deterring crime.

The excerpts cite an experiment conducted nearly four decades ago by the police department in Kansas City, Mo., which at the time had a population of 507,087. The study indicated that increased patrols did not have a measurable impact on reducing crimes in 15 areas of that city.

For more on this story, see the July 21 edition of the Barrow Journal or click here to read the full story online when you subscribe to our new e-edition.

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