Tuskegee residents sick of burglars

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

TUSKEGEE, AL (WSFA) - Leanora Pogue is a hairstylist in Tuskegee--a city she loves, but one where she doesn't always feel safe.

"I felt invaded of my privacy, which I probably won't ever get it back again," she says.

Her home has been broken into twice.

"It's a problem...it's a big problem," she adds.

Pogue says she's not the only one noticing the string of break-ins.

Tommie Johnson has, too.

"It seems like the burglaries have gotten worse because there's less police protection," says Johnson.

Residents are taking their concerns to the city.

"To voice my opinion and give ideas and suggestions to what I think would make the town better," adds Pogue.

And while Tuskegee police say they haven't noticed an increase in burglaries, Mayor Omar Neal isn't taking any chances.

"What we're doing is trying to assess the magnitude of problems to see if there is an escalation," he says.

Neal says Tuskegee's caught in the same squeeze as many other small cities--inadequate funding--especially for manpower.

"We need more officers. We have applied for grants and we applied for ten officers but we only received one."

Neal says the police can't do it alone.  That's why he's urging everyone to take a stand.

"We're trying to get the community to understand that we can protect ourselves if we all get involved."

Pogue's taking that step by attending city council meetings and speaking out, and encourages others to do the same.

"I think it really makes a difference by everybody coming together.  Being there will make a big difference."

Residents plan to attend the next city council meeting in April.  In the meantime, police have increased patrolling in problem areas.

Mayor Neal says 80% of the city's burglaries are done by juveniles.

He's working with the police department to see about setting up a youth-aid program, but says there's not much money to do that.

The city also formed a committee made up of residents and business owners to develop a comprehensive 10-year plan for Tuskegee.  Mayor Neal says public safety is a key issue in that plan.

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