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Palestine Police Officers Association takes part in community project

PALESTINE, August 15, 2013-- Despite looming threat of thunderstorms, members of the Palestine Police Officers Association, along with Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert were invited, and took part in a community project aimed at reducing complaints of vagrancy and trespassing and other illegal activity on an area of private property adjoining businesses along West Palestine Avenue near Tennessee.

“This apparently has been an ongoing issue; however, with the land owner in poor health, we decided it was appropriate, on our own time, to assist the owner with his blessing, by placing No Trespassing signs on the open lot, as well as spraying purple paint on the perimeter tree line. The purple paint is identified under the Texas Penal Code as a universal symbol prohibiting trespassing on wooded lots. “We felt that the painting along with the trespassing signs would give leverage to owner to rid the area of the problems that have been generated over the last several months, including panhandling, sleeping in the wooded area, leaving trash, and other debris, as well as urinating in the area.”

“Chief Herbert and I canvassed the property [on Tuesday] and found two gentlemen who were actually from Palestine, or had relatives living in town, but chose to hang out in the area”, said Jeff Powell, a member of the Palestine Police Association and currently assigned as Patrol Commander of the Palestine Police Department. “We learned this when we were trying to provide some shelter for the gentlemen, such as the Salvation Army in Tyler. It blew me away that they were local, and actually had homes to go to.”

Ultimately, the area had become an invitation to use drugs, alcohol, and provide a means to carry on prostitution and other illegal activities. “People become uncomfortable when they are doing business at an establishment, and are approached in the drive-thru or on their way out of a store. Helping the property owner by post signs and establish his right to own the property without trespassing occurring is the least we can do.”

The Department is also, from this point, prepared to follow-up by checking up on the property and initially removing any further violators during the first week after the posting, however, continued violations will likely result in criminal prosecutions being filed”, says Lt. Powell.

“If members of the community are experiencing similar problems, I would love to have them call me or email me their concerns at 903-731-8471 or email at jmpowell@palestine-tx.org. It may be an issue that can be handled best by the association, or it may be a problem that can be addressed by the department. Either way, we are looking to solve problems here within our community. We also want to help people who want help, humanity should be concerned with destitute people. Either way, through social programs, or law enforcement, there should be a balance where we can deal with issues that arise within our community.”

KYYK's Gary Richards spoke with Palestine Police Chief Robert Herbert about the project. Click below for more.

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