BPD Chief: ‘We’ll do whatever it takes’ to keep citizens safe

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Brookhaven police continue cracking down on vagrant encampments a month after a carjacking on Brookway Boulevard.

A Brookhaven woman was injured in a car jacking in Walmart’s parking lot June 20, when a man stole her car and she was dragged a short distance. Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins said at the time that officers believed the suspect was “a regular that’s been hanging out there.”

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Other reports have been made of people approaching shoppers asking for money or making them feel threatened. Some of these people have been individuals who are homeless or otherwise temporarily in the wooded areas around stores, banks and other businesses in the city.

“I take this personally. We’ve got to take it personally when it’s the safety of our town and our citizens,” Collins said.

BPD officers have recently made repeated entry into the woods to move settlers out and make necessary arrests. The goal is to clear out trash, as well, and to be seen and heard. A repeated police presence discourages criminal activity in general, and reassures business owners and employees that law enforcement is there for their safety.

“I’ve got official police vehicles out in the woods trying to keep people from harassing citizens at our shopping centers,” Collins said. “We are going to use whatever we have in order to get our job done. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep our citizens safe. I check on these people in these businesses and they feel safer knowing we’re out here.”

Collins said part of the safety concern stems from not knowing if the persons they are confronting are on drugs, have criminal records, or have serious mental issues. The unknown factors heighten the risk for officers and shoppers.

“That’s why we’re out here, trying to keep the people safe. When criminals adapt, we have to adapt,” he said. “We’re running them all out of the woods. Anything we’ve got at that police station, those police vehicles, we’re going to use.”

“I’m not apologizing for trying to make a difference. Some people complain no matter what you do or don’t do,” the chief said, and encouraged concerned citizens to look into joining the law enforcement ranks.

“If anyone thinks they can do the job better than me, run for chief,” he said, “or sign up to be a police officer and get the training, because we need the help.”