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Community aids police drug sting

Nov. 10, 2006

Staff writer

In an ongoing investigation targeting street-level drug dealers, the Waco Police Department began serving arrest warrants Thursday. The majority of charges were for the delivery of crack cocaine.

As of Thursday afternoon, 20 arrests had been made.

"It's obvious we have street-level narcotics dealings going on from what has occurred in this operation," said Steve Anderson, spokesman for the Waco Police Department.

With cooperation of area residents, phase one of the investigation began in the summer and resulted in 38 suspects being identified and 50 arrest warrants being issued, Anderson said.

Warrants were not served until Thursday because of the nature of the investigation, he said.

"Anytime you have a narcotics operation going on, you are conducting business in a certain way," Anderson said. "If you go out an arrest them right away, they will know who made the case on them."

The investigation began after receiving a variety of complaints from Waco neighborhoods, Anderson said.

"Neighborhoods had enough and said we are tired of this and can't tolerate this anymore," Anderson said.

The success of the investigation was attributed to a cooperative effort between Waco Police and city residents.

"It was a combination of everyone working together," Anderson said. "It was people who live in these neighborhoods deciding they don't want this here and getting information on open narcotic dealings in neighborhoods."

Since January 2006, there have been a total of 929 narcotics offenses in 25 Waco neighborhoods, according to Waco police.

"Until you have that (neighborhood involvement) in a community, you are not going to get a grip on these types of problems," Anderson said. "When we have neighbors saying we need help and we want it and accept it, then you are going to win."

Waco police encourage citizens to get involved through several community outreach programs including Citizens on Patrol, Citizens Police Academy and Neighborhood Watch.

Tulsa junior Ian McCracken is a student at the Citizen's Police Academy. McCracken, an information systems and marketing major, said that while the program does not related to his major, it's a good way to give back to the community.

"The Waco Police Department really encourages community policing, where you get involved in the community and ask for their help and, in return, they offer you help in trying to find what people should not be in your neighborhood," McCracken said. "I think it's a way for us to give to the Waco community who gives us a lot,"

Dr. Joseph Brown, associate professor of political science, said several students who concentrate their major on criminal justice greatly value the programs offered by the Waco Police Department.

"There is some real advantage to a student participating because a criminal justice major anticipates working with law enforcement," Brown said. "That experience would be invaluable because it's hands on and they get a chance to see and experience some things that they wouldn't ordinarily see outside of that internship program."

The program also helps students who decide they want to be involved in criminal justice.

"By seeing what goes on, one can get a better understand of what this particular career areas entails," Brown said.

Officer Greg Perkins of the Baylor Police Department encourages students to get involved in a Waco Police Department program.

"It gives you an insight on the laws and what's going on in the community," he said. "It also gives you insight on what you can do to try and change things in your field of work."

Students can become a member one of these outreach programs by applying on the Waco Police Department Web site.

"I did a lot of community policing work," Perkins said. "It gets you out to meet people who you wouldn't normally meet. It gets you out of your comfort zone."