It is the genuine concern of the Bell City Council to improve our city and attack crime in our streets. Your recent article, "Drug Users Frustrate, Frighten Merchants in Small Bell Center" (Times, Jan. 22), calls attention to a specific problem--drug-dealing in our city. The merchants interviewed held our Police Department up as insensitive and powerless against this menace. Indirectly, this is also an indictment against our city, which I take exception to.
Crime is everyone's problem. The very merchants who complain about drug pushers are the ones who can testify against this activity, yet they refuse to get involved. Our city has a merchant watch program; not one of the complaining merchants is a member.
It is true that the Bell City Council and our Police Department have received complaints regarding this drug . . . criminal activity. We have authorized undercover operations. We further asked for a higher profile of patrol in that area. We have had small successes which we hope to build on. It is not true that no action is being taken!
It is the Bell City Council's commitment to take any and all legal action to diffuse and eventually eradicate the drug and gang problems that have infiltrated our city. This can include further police action, preventive drug education programs such as DARE, and going after the absentee landlords who ignore our building and health codes, which lowers the living standards in our city. A slum, Bell will never be!
Finally, it will never be our policy to instruct our Police Department to break the law in order to enforce the law, as has been suggested by some residents. This obviously creates limitations which creates frustration, but if concerned citizens would act as the eyes and ears in helping our Police Department, our successes would be multiplied.
It is my hope that these merchants will join our commercial watch program to be full partners in eradicating these problems from our city.
Mayor of Bell
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