Determined neighbors are credited with helping police bust a meth lab in their South St. Louis neighborhood. Police and prosecutors say it's a great example of how you can get a bad guy off your street too.
We found out exactly what you need to do to get rid of a nuisance.
Some great neighborhoods, like Lafayette Square, have emerged thanks to people who got fed up with crime and decided to push it out. Becoming an extra set of eyes and ears for police can amplify your voice in the criminal justice system.
Don Dressel suspected a drug house down the street.
"Traffic -- heavy traffic -- in and out at all hours of the night," Don Dressel said.
He called police and city aldermen to bust the bad guy. It took months of diligent work but finally happened Monday night. Prosecutors charged Steven Barton with manufacturing meth. Police discovered his lab when he dumped it down the drain and started a fire.
"This is a huge danger to everyone," Dressel said. "There's children who live right next door. I think everyone is aware of the danger of the meth issue, but the element that it's bringing to the neighborhood -- we have people who are seeking drugs and if they don't have the resources for the drugs, what are they going to do to get them in our neighborhood?"
Police and prosecutors want more neighbors' help to push criminals out. You should call 911 or non-emergency 314.231.1212 every time your gut instinct kicks in.
"The most important thing is when they're calling 911 to make sure the person gives a very accurate description of what they're observing and who is involved in that activity," Sgt. John McLaughlin said. "Things that they observe like foot traffic, times of the day..."
Describe to dispatchers everything you see -- a suspect's race, gender, type and color of clothing, vehicles that might be involved and the license plate number. You can do it anonymously. Once it's documented, the city can determine whether it's a nuisance property.
"The more pressure points you can put on a problem, the more effective you're going to be in resolving it," Jennifer Joyce, Circuit Attorney, said.
But it doesn't stop there. Neighbors with the most successful cases stick with them to the top. Tell the judge how the crimes have affected you and your neighbors.
"That makes a big impact on the sentences people receive," Joyce said. "Judges are starved for information about what's going on on the streets."
It can take several calls before a nuisance problem property officer is assigned to the case. One officer works in each of the nine police districts. To talk to them directly, call the patrol division in your area:
North Patrol: 314.444.0100
Central Patrol: 314.444.2500
South Patrol: 314.444.0001
You can also log your complaint through the Citizens Service Bureau at 314.622.4800. The information you tell them gets straight to police.
Another option for drug-related problems is to call the anonymous hotline 314.241.COPS.