07/12/06 — Princeton resident complains about police 'harassment'

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Princeton resident complains about police 'harassment'

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 12, 2006 1:45 PM

PRINCETON -- A Princeton resident told the Town Board that young people are being harassed by the police, but the police said they are merely enforcing the law.

Serena Stevens made the comment during the Princeton Town Board's July meeting at the Community Building.

The police said the youths were playing basketball in the streets and impeding traffic.

Town Commissioner Walter Martin Jr., the police commissioner, told Ms. Stevens that if there was a problem and it persisted, police would enforce the law.

"Can't they enforce the law without being rude about it?" she asked.

Ms. Stevens also complained that the police were doing nothing about a nearby drug house.

"We have drug dealers coming in and going out," she said. "Every time we call for help, they say, 'We're doing all we can'."

Later in the meeting, Police Chief Eddie Lewis responded to Ms. Stevens's comments.

Lewis said law enforcement officers have to follow the law in investigating reports of drug use.

Officers cannot barge into a home to investigate drug use unless they have reasonable expectations of finding illegal activity, he said. Without a duly authorized search warrant, the case would be tossed out of court, he said.

Lewis added that if his department could get a handle on juvenile lawbreaking, the town would be the better off for it.

Ms. Stevens said young people have no place to play basketball.

Mayor Don Rains said he would suggest that the Princeton School gym be opened for supervised play.