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Residents concerned about crime and drug activity pack school auditorium for meeting with police chief

DE SOTO, MO - Worries about crime had dozens of people packing the auditorium at De Soto high school Monday night. Many wanted to hear from the new police chief on what`s being done to fix the problem.

Most people said that they’re worried about drug activity in several neighborhoods and most recently, car break-ins.

“The residents of De Soto are great and we all look out for each other," said Pamela Midgett but added that many in the community are neither ignorant nor immune to crime that could or is already happening within their neighborhoods.

“I think since we are short on our police staff that people are more brave and they are more out in the open," Midgett said.

“The drugs and the violence that’s going on," said Ruby McCord whose grandkids live with her, "I came down from Illinois so we could be safer and instead our town is really just gone to pot.”

Their voices were being heard as police chief, Jeff McCreary presented solutions at the Monday night crime meeting.

"We do take their concerns seriously and we are going to try and address all of those concerns," McCreary said.

McCreary listed all of the issues the police department had been facing prior to him taking over back in July.

That includes lack of manpower to respond to calls for help or monitoring neighborhoods where neighbors say drug activity is rampant.

“A lot of communities are experiencing drug problems and a lot of people have homeless people walking around," McCreary continued to say, “we will be a different department in another three months than we were when we started, we will be a different department in a year.”

McCreary also told the crowd that the department is implementing 58 new policies including staff training, supervision and how to respond to specific calls. He said that he is also is in the process of hiring veteran officers to help train newer staff.

Some residents said that the changes are a bit of peace of mind, adding that at this point, they will just have to be patient and continue looking out for one another.

"These issues did not happen overnight," Midgett said, "it’s been years of these things going on and unfortunately it may take years to rectify everything.”