WJTV News Channel 12 - Utica Community, Hinds Co. Sheriff Air Crime Concerns

Utica Community, Hinds Co. Sheriff Air Crime Concerns

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Utica, MS -

The town of Utica has been in the news frequently during the last few month but not for positive things in the community.

Drug busts and a giant dog-fighting ring have been broken up by Hinds county authorities and that publicity has motivated some neighborhoods to reach out to law enforcement with a goal to create stronger connections.

On Tuesday night a group from the town met with Hinds County officials at the Utica Middle School Gym.

One of the dozens of residents in attendance, Catherine Wilson, said she is turning to the Sheriff's department for new crimefighting strategies.

"Most all of us in Utica and surrounding areas, we look out for each other and keep our eyes on each other. We're trying to get back to the old days when everybody was looking out for everybody," Wilson said.

Sheriff Tyrone Lewis listened to concerns about burglary, gunfire in the area, and the protection of area senior citizens.

He also identifies his biggest concern for the area.

"We do know that the drugs are moving to the rural areas now and we're trying to get a handle on that for them so they can't take over this particular community," Sheriff Lewis said.

"Right now there's an atmosphere of fear. Fear of talking to law enforcement or even giving law enforcement information for fear of retaliation. We want to try to connect and disband that fear," Lewis said.

This is the first stop on a tour of rural communities for the Sheriff - passing out profile cards for neighbor with worries who say they're upset their town only makes the news after big crimes.

"I'm just trying to be prepared. I don't have any crime in my neighborhood right now in our neighborhood but you never know now-a-days," Wilson said.

Elected leaders from Utica were also present at this meeting including the local police force.

Also involved were business leaders who say the area's crime statistics are inhibiting investments and something has to be done in order for the area to grow.

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