HAZARD – Officers with the Hazard Police Department say an initiative they are calling a street-to-street campaign is continuing to pay off with additional drug seizures and charges filed.
Officers have already charged several individuals to date, including during an effort in Walkertown earlier this month, and say several more charges were filed over the course of last week due to information from the community and aggressive patrols.
“A lot of it is responding to tips and just out on general patrol,” said Deputy Chief Joe Engle. “We made several arrests last just on active patrol, or aggressively seeking people that are doing criminal acts.”
Officers responded to a residence on Broadway on February 21 after tips were made reporting possible drug trafficking inside the home. Engle said the homeowner allowed police inside the home, where one man was charged with marijuana possession.
Charges were filed on two more people on February 23 as officers were conducting surveillance on Main Street when Engle said a traffic stop turned up drugs.
Engle said the driver of the car, identified as James Beaver, was charged with operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license, while a passenger, 24-year-old Joanna Shepherd of Bulan, is now facing several charges. According to the arrest citation, Shepherd appeared to be under the influence, and a subsequent search of her purse turned up a small baggie of marijuana along with medication identified as tramadol and neurotion. Shepherd is four months pregnant, according to the citation, and was charged with public intoxication, possession of marijuana, third-degree possession of a controlled substance, and illegal possession of a legend drug.
The following day, Engle noted that an officer conducted another traffic stop in the Backwoods section of Hazard near Wooton and Cedar Streets which resulted in additional charges. One man, who Engle identified as Richard Riley, was arrested with seven outstanding warrants in his name.
The majority of the tips the department received have originated from the city’s residential areas, such as Lothair and the Backwoods in the more southern sections of town, Engle said. And as long as the department continues to receive tips, officers will actively and quickly pursue them. He added that the department’s goal is to respond to complaints in a timely manner, and not wait for several weeks before an officer follows up.
“We’re going to keep actively pursuing and try to make the neighborhood more safe from street to street,” he said. “All this stuff was generated by active patrol. It wasn’t reactive, it was proactive policing, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”