First night of directed patrols on Ventura Ave declared a success
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department made four separate arrests Tuesday night during its first night of directed patrol on Ventura Avenue.
One of the arrests was of a man from Louisiana wanted for homicide. Derik Gomez-Martinez was initially arrested for possession of marijuana, and at first gave officers a false identification.
Officers were able to obtain his real name and found he had an outstanding warrant in New Orleans. Gomez-Martinez was taken to the Cole County Jail and is currently awaiting extradition.
Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker said the directed patrols of Ventura Avenue started because of multiple calls from residents about gun shots fired, disturbances, and assaults.
"Shots fired, resulting in many cars being struck by gunfire, shell casings found," Shoemaker said. "That obviously concerned residents and concerns us clearly, since our job is public safety."
Shoemaker said the department has been doing directed patrols with the community action team for a long time, but this was the first time doing it on Ventura Avenue.
He said the community action team is a group of officers that addresses "quality of life problems." He said those problems can range from graffiti in an area, to disturbances, and to things like what they're addressing on Ventura.
"I think the days of people saying that it's just quiet Jeff City, nothing ever happens here, I think those days are sort of over with," Shoemaker said.
He said this isn't the first time they've arrested someone from another city or state that's running from a crime. He said there is more crime in Jefferson City than people think, and those that say there aren't problems with gangs or other things are just denying the problem.
Shoemaker said both patrol officers and the community action team will be around Ventura Avenue for as long as needed. He said the point of all this is to show neighbors that the department is listening and is committed to stopping as much crime as possible.
"Everybody has the right to a quality of life in their neighborhood, and that's just something we're trying to make a little bit better out there," he said.
One resident of Ventura Avenue said she has seen and heard suspicious activity on her street.
"It's a nice neighborhood, until the sun goes down," she said.
The resident said she has heard sounds that either sound like gun shots or fireworks, and she knows of neighbors who posses drugs. She also said there's often an unusual amount of children at some of the houses on the street.
She said she doesn't know if she should call the police to report incidents.
Shoemaker said the department needs the community's help to solve these problems, and he urges anyone to call if they know of suspicious activity.
"If they're willing to help us on that, and point things out, and let us know when things are not going so well, then I think that collaborative success is what we're looking for," he said.
Shoemaker said the first night was successful, and getting a man wanted for a homicide off the street is "definitely a success."
He said officers are looking for violations of any type, and they are doing anything they can to show people they are there, and watching.
"I think the success is addressing the issue, and I think the success not comes necessarily from the number of arrests, but also from the fact that residents are noticing," Shoemaker said.