Central Provo residents battle rising crime

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    By SAMANTHA RIG

    A request for funds to run a city project called the Central Area Crime Council has been approved by the Provo City Council in hopes that the rise in drug-related crime will diminish.

    The purpose of the crime council is to combat “increased criminal activity that has become a threat to neighborhood safety of adults and children,” according to the funds application for the crime council.

    The Central Area Council, the organization in charge of the project, is comprised of six neighborhoods: Maeser, Joaquin, Franklin, CBD, Dixon-Timp and North Park.

    The Provo City Neighborhood Program was created by the Municipal Council to allow citizens a more active role in government. All residents, property and business owners within the Central Area Council are members.

    A Provo police crime report charting the city’s crime rate from 1990 to 1994 shows that crime has increased from 3,737 crimes in 1990 to 4,471 in 1994. The crimes include, arson, assault, burglary, homicide, manslaughter, rape, robbery and theft.

    Pete Reynolds, Joaquin Neighborhood chair, said residents are also concerned with the behavior of students. Residents in the Joaquin neighborhood, directly south of BYU, have complained about BYU students not adhering to the standards they have agreed upon while attending the university. The residents have complained that students are showing a lack of respect for residents by throwing beer bottles into their backyards.

    The most dramatic increase in Provo arrests has been sales or possession of narcotics, according to the 1993/1994 Provo police crime report.

    In 1993, 202 adults were arrested for the sales or possession of narcotics. In 1994, 415 adults were arrested on the same charges. In 1993, 59 juveniles were arrested for the sales or possession of narcotics and in 1994, 86 juveniles were arrested.

    “I believe that crime is underreported in Provo,” said Bert L. Cherry, Maeser Neighborhood and Central Area chair.

    “Crime is getting worse. It’s something the community needs to know and be alerted about so they can be informed,” Cherry said.

    Reynolds stated that in the central area of Provo there has also been a problem with drug houses.

    “I think (drug houses) are perpetuated by a variety of things including absentee landlords, rentals that are not maintained, rentals that are illegal, and increase in drug activity. I also think it’s a deterioration of moral values,” Cherry said.

    Crime is especially a concern for those in the Maeser neighborhood. The residents claim that drug deals occur often, even at Maeser Elementary.

    Members of the Provo City Council and residents of the Maeser neighborhood took a walk around the neighborhood while residents shared their concerns over the drug houses, drug deals, and teen-agers frequenting the Maeser Elementary School grounds and harassing the children.

    “I can’t wait for somebody to be hurt or killed before I do something,” said one concerned citizen during the walk.

    “I know that it’s not safe for my daughters to be outside after dark,” said Marji Sarveich, a Maeser neighborhood resident.

    Sarveich said she saw two drug deals occur in her front yard. She called the police but they did not respond in time to apprehend the suspects, she said.

    The crime council will implement various programs such as mailing newsletters to residents; forming a “calling tree” to inform neighbors of suspicious activities; coordinating city council staff, police, fire, public works and community development departments and involvement of the BYU Law School to create a resident Bill of Rights.

    Cherry would like college students who live in the central area neighborhoods to take more community action.

    “It will give students a chance to give something back to the community,” he said. “We would like to have students help because they are part-time residents but we really want to make them full-time partners in neighborhoods. Many live here and have families, and I’m sure many of them would like to contribute something to the communities that they are spending four or more years in.”

    Two hundred to 300 more people are needed to donate at least five hours each over the next two months.

    For volunteer information call Bert Cherry at 377-4468

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