A string of incidents requiring police response on Dodge Street in Kent is spurring nearby residents to reestablish a neighborhood watch and find resources to keep kids from straying down the wrong path.
Kent police have been called to Dodge Street, located in Kent's South End off of Franklin Avenue, 22 times since May 1 this year for a range of complaints that include disorderly conduct, noise, burglary and use of force, according to Lt. Jim Prusha, public information officer for Kent police. Police also have been called 13 times to Elm Street, one street north, and 10 times to Harris Street, one street south.
In the same time frame, four arrests were made on Dodge Street, two for domestic violence, one for obstructing official business and one for possession of drug paraphernalia, Prusha said.
"As far as summer calls, there's definitely been an increase in this area," Prusha said. "It's higher than it has been in the past."
In response to the uptick in bad activity, neighborhood resident Doria Daniels has organized a community meeting at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Union Baptist Church, 240 Dodge St. Representatives from the Kent police and Ward 3 Councilman Wayne Wilson will be present.
"Twenty years ago we had a problem like this and we worked with (then-police Chief William) Lillich. They had a foot patrol and got things settled down," said Daniels, an at-large candidate for Kent City Council. "Well, now this mess is starting to creep up again, and so we're working to get it changed."
Daniels said that while a neighborhood watch existed years ago, it has since evaporated and needs to be reactivated.
"Now, we've got to get formally involved again," she said, adding she will facilitate Saturday's meeting and hopes to inspire those who attend to participate.
Most of the incidents on Dodge Street, which primarily are occurring in the 300 block, seem to result from youngsters not having a positive outlet, Daniels said, adding that objectives of Saturday's meeting include finding positive avenues for teenagers, including possible employment opportunities.
Prusha said the police have already stepped up their presence in the neighborhood by assigning extra patrols to the area, and will attend the meeting.
"We're going to have some officers there, probably more to listen than to talk," he said. "We want to hear what their problems are and communicate back to them how we can or cannot help."
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