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Angry crowd blames Sheriff King, deputies for failing to fight crime
Angry crowd blames Sheriff King, deputies for failing to fight crime

Steve Cox outlines his anger at Laquey crime during a protest meeting Thursday night.
LAQUEY, Mo. (May 11, 2010) — Self-employed Laquey businessman Steve Cox said he thought 20 to 30 people would turn out for a Thursday night meeting objecting to lack of law enforcement from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. Instead, a community room in an old feed store building next to the Laquey post office overflowed beyond capacity with more than a hundred people, some shouting and many angry at what they believe is lack of crime control in the parts of Pulaski County outside city limits.

Cox, who has himself been a victim of multiple crimes, said there’s no excuse for the rampant crime in the Laquey area.

“Basically I’m mad as hell and I don’t want to take it anymore; we’ve got drugs, we’ve got thieves, we’ve got repeat offenders out here,” Cox said. “The sheriff’s department is out of touch; we need a change. There’s other people who feel the same way and it is a statement in itself when we figure 25 people might show up and we’ve got damn near a hundred.”

While most of the people in the meeting were from Laquey, Buckhorn, and southwest Pulaski County, Cox said the problem is countywide and some people at the meeting came from as far away as Crocker and Dixon.

“They had the same thing going on over there and we’re glad you came,” Cox said.

Jeff Thomas, one of two Republican candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Hooper, agreed. Thomas said all of his campaign signs posted around Pulaski County were requested by a resident or property owner, and he said many of them had been victims of uncontrolled crime in recent years.

Even when deputies show up for calls, Cox said incompetence, laziness, or an uncaring attitude makes the problems worse, citing examples where deputies refused to come to calls, asked crime victims to come to the sheriff’s department in Waynesville to file a report, or when they actually arrived on a crime scene, refused to take fingerprints or do other investigative work,

“If we were to have a brawl out in our parking lot we could time it; it may be hours if they show up. If you want something done, the closest you’re going to get is to go downtown and make a report,” Cox said. “It’s unnerving to know your house has been broken into and you get no help. When the sheriff’s department does show up, you’re thinking, ‘OK, I’ve got some help,’ and by the time they leave, ‘Damn, I’m glad they’re gone.’”

Cox’s comments received loud applause, and shouts from some attendees that he had “hit a nerve.”

Sheriff J.B. King has campaigned even before his election on a platform calling for a sales tax to add more manpower to the department. Cox said that’s not the problem.

“We’re going to hear excuses like lack of funding, not enough manpower. It’s not the lack of manpower, it’s the man in power down there that’s not getting it done. We’ve been fighting crime around here for a long time and it’s always lack of funding, lack of manpower, need a bigger jail,” Cox said. “Let them work with what they’ve got, but they’ve got to go to work. They’ve got to do something. They need to be motivated, they need to be energized, and if they don’t like the job and are just going to sit down there, let’s get some people down there who want to do it.”

The result of law enforcement inaction, Cox said, has been that “the drugs and thieves are tearing families apart.”

“I know I’d like to start from the top, you know, and start booting them out the door. They’re elected officials, they’re paid to do a job, they’re not doing none of it,” Cox said.

One person in the room residents for a show of hands on how many had personally had “been the victim of being ripped off;” most raised their hands.

Cox said that proves his point.

“I don’t want to make this a political rally of any sort, it’s just a bunch of people come together in a community that are sick and tired of what’s going on and we’re getting no help and it’s always pointing back at that sheriff’s department,” Cox said. “I don’t know how many people out there or the amount of money that’s probably been stolen in our area the last three or four years. You can go down through here and there’s probably nobody who’s lived here more than four or five years and most of the people here have been affected by the thieving, one way or another.”

Many of the problems, Cox said, are caused by drug users who steal things to support their drug habits.

“You have to pack your laptop, your jewelry, your gun, put them in your car when you go to work so at least you have that when you come home,” Cox said to loud shouts of agreement.

“My wife does not like to come home and be home by herself,” Cox said. “That’s no way to live. You pull in your driveway, you look, you see what’s missing, what’s moved, you hold your breath as you open your door to make sure they haven’t taken anything today.”

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