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Crackdown targets problem areas

MONTICELLO – Law enforcement officers united Wednesday todisplay a strong presence in an area generating numerous complaintsfrom citizens about drugs, speeding and other concerns, officialssaid.

Lead by the Monticello Police Department, a joint task forcethat included officers from the Lawrence County Sheriff’sDepartment, Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and MississippiBureau of Narcotics blanketed the town in checkpoints from 4 p.m.to 8:30 p.m.

The crackdown began with simultaneous checkpoints at theintersections of Old Highway 27 and Rockport Avenue and at Highway184 and Western Avenue. Officers began roaming checkpoints around6:30 p.m.

The opening checkpoints effectively sealed off a majority ofWard One and an area targeted by the police department because ofnumerous citizen complaints in the past few weeks, said ScottStormo, a Monticello police officer who lead the task force in theabsence of Police Chief David Stanley. Stanley is out of town onpersonal business.

“We’ve been getting a number of complaint calls from that areaand they wanted a show of police presence,” he said.

The checkpoints were a display of force designed to reassurecitizens and intimidate criminals, Stormo said.

“I think it went very well,” he said. “It showed everybody thepolice were out and in control. Over half of those stopped saidthey were glad to see us doing it and many encouraged us to holdmore of them.”

The police department is happy to oblige them, Stormo said, andmore are being planned.

“We’re going to try to do this every few weeks,” he said. “Weknow it’s an inconvenience because it takes time out of their day,but we hope they understand what we’re trying to do.”

And, he said, “the time is minimal” for citizens who have adriver’s license and proof of insurance.

The law enforcement agencies together issued more than 100citations on misdemeanor violations ranging from no motorcycleendorsement to driving without a license. Two arrests were made fordriving while license suspended, Stormo said.

The vast majority of tickets, however, were issued for no proofof insurance. The officer said 37 of those citations were issuedduring the evening.

Stormo admitted the show of force was partly in response to anincident last week where some men followed others to a trailer parkand opened fire as they left the vehicle. It sparked an exchange ofgunfire that ended with bullet holes in four trailer homes and inthree vehicles. No one was injured.

Some suspects have been arrested in the incident and warrantshave been issued for others, Stormo said.

“If they see us out and in the numbers we were out last night,that kind of stuff won’t happen,” he said.

Stormo said he especially appreciated the efforts of theLawrence County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers.

“The dispatchers got worked hard yesterday, but we appreciatetheir help,” he said Thursday. “Without them we’d be blind outthere.”