Jefferson City residents say crime rates still high despite police presence
JEFFERSON CITY - Residents on Ventura Avenue said heavier police presence is good, however things have not gotten much better for those living on the high-crime street.
The Jefferson City Police Department started doing saturated patrols on Ventura Ave. in 2017 after receiving calls about crime, gun shots, drug use and suspicious activity from those living on the street.
JCPD's Captain Doug Shoemaker said the community action team, which is not a call-based team, began directed patrols of the area.
"That continued for some time, there were some arrests that were made, and there were some issues that were dealt with," Shoemaker said.
He said the community action team moves around to different areas of the community as the need arises, and it has since moved from Ventura Ave. However, Shoemaker said the team still visits the area frequently, as do other officers assigned to that zone.
Shoemaker said that even though the community action team moved on, there are still issues in the neighborhood that have not yet been alleviated.
One landlord on Ventura Ave., who did not want to give her name, said the problems are far from gone. She said neighbors are moving out of the area because they no longer want to deal with the crime and commotion. She said her and her son will be moving out as well.
The landlord said people refuse to go on camera because they fear retaliation for speaking out.
The landlord, Shoemaker, and other neighbors said much of the responsibility lies in the landlords' hands to make sure they are doing background checks on their tenants.
The landlord who spoke to KOMU 8 said she is the only one in the neighborhood who does background checks. She said other landlords will let anyone live in their complexes as long as they can come up with the money.
Shoemaker said the department can still have a strong presence on the street without the community action team because there are still officers driving through and responding to calls on the street.
He said the amount of calls to the department from Ventura has dropped.
Another neighbor on Ventura, who also declined give her name, said she saw a flash of gun fire outside her window when she got home from work about 8:30 one night
She said when the power went out during the middle of the night in the area last week, she could hear a lot of commotion outside her house. She decided to call the police to make sure they were patrolling.
Shoemaker said he really wants to encourage residents to call the police if they hear or see something.
"We would much rather be called and have to address an issue, than not be called and the problem keeps snowballing," he said.
Shoemaker said the department wants to address the quality of life issue in the neighborhood.
"As with any neighborhood in our community, no matter where it is, there are good people that just want to have a safe neighborhood that's quiet and peaceful and where their kids can play," Shoemaker said.
The landlord said it's unfortunate that people can't enjoy nice weather at night in the neighborhood. She said police tell her to go inside if she walks her dog at night.
She said many of her tenants and neighbors, including herself, are trying to leave the area before summer hits, since crime increases in warmer weather.