West University Place residents demand more police

- West University police make a bust during a traffic stop for falsified tags that netted officers a felon in possession of a weapon and narcotics. Scenes like this stand in sharp contrast with the neighborhood image that real estate agent and 35-year resident Heidi Dugan wants people to have.

“The West U that I've known and I tout to people who move here is, it's an old fashioned neighborhood," says Dugan. "We have our own police force. We don't have any crime. It's safe." That was until recently.

Dugan also says that during Labor Day weekend, a neighbor was stabbed at a nearby park. Recently, muggers targeted the Mayor Pro Tem's wife in the couple's driveway as she returned home. And don't forget the shooting rampage that Nathan DeSai went on before police killed the attorney in a shootout.

West University police requested funding in June for two more officers and surveillance cameras for two intersections. The cameras would not be constantly monitored. The plan is to add two intersections a year for four years.

“If we had a crime or suspicious behavior, we could go back and review the footage and see if we have a suspect vehicle that's going through the intersection,” says West University Place Police Department Chief Ken Walker. He adds that despite the recent high-profile crimes, with the exception of burglaries, the crime rate has remained low and steady. The amount of burglaries spiked in 2015 but have been decreasing in 2016. West University Place has a rate of violent crimes that is 97 percent less than the state and national averages.

Dugan is trying to gather as many people as she can to rally at a budget meeting at West University Place City Hall and push for the police department's requests to get passed.

“We will do whatever it takes to get protected here," adds Dugan. "To keep in the neighborhood we've always known it to be.”

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