The Wellston Police Department solved a home burglary this week only because officers donated cash from their pockets to make an undercover buy from a suspect. The $75 they pooled bought evidence needed to secure a search warrant.
With help from the St. Louis County Police Tactical Unit, Wellston used the search warrant and recovered property belonging to a single mother from Wellston along with marijuana, guns and cash. The family had lost a laptop computer, X-box video game console and televisions.
"I felt good that they cared enough about the community we serve to do that," said Wellston Police Chief G. Thomas Walker, speaking of his officers. "We were able to get this search warrant executed. It was very fulfilling," he added. Police belief the TVs had been sold, but they are trying to recover them as well.
Walker said the last time his department received "seed" money from City Hall to facilitate drug and stolen property buys was in the fall. We received two hundred dollars and it paid off in searches executed this year. One of the raids uncovered an AK-47 assault rifle.
"We're not talking large sums of money. We've done miracles with just a couple hundred dollars. That's what we were trying to get."
Chief Walker said he had written to Mayor Linda Whitfield requesting permission to speak before the full city council to explain the program and the need for five hundred dollars a month to pay informants and to make undercover purchases. So far, he said, he has not heard back from the mayor.
"We just want the Wellston residents to feel safe and we know it's been proven if these types funds are dedicated to the police we can turn them into search warrants to get drugs off the street , to get violent offenders off the street."
Walker added every time a gun is recovered, a life may be saved.