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City holds town hall meeting to address drug presence

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GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City (GBC) meeting room was full for the town hall meeting May 13. Mayor David Skains explained that the meeting was in response to conversations on the Nextdoor App concerning drugs in neighborhoods and what GBC Police were doing to address it.
GBC Police Chief Jeff Arnswald addressed the group, explaining how police investigations work and what is required before a search warrant can be issued. Arnswald, who said of himself that he is a realist and honest, told the crowd, “We do not police from Facebook. We do not monitor Facebook in real time. We use social media to help us in our daily activites…If you need policing, call.”
Arnswald explained that the staffing includes 13 sworn personnel, eight of which are patrol officers with two on patrol at any given time, even when we have more population on the weekend. Arnswald said that the number one exporter of marijuana right now is the State of Colorado where it is legal, although it is still illegal in Texas. “It is still a crime in the state of Texas to use, cultivate or grow marijuana. We are enforcing laws that in some states these things are legal, you can see where that is problematic.”
Speaking on the opioid epidemic, Arnswald said, “You now have a whole group of people addicted to a drug and we tell doctors they can’t prescribe it…now they turn to the illicit drug trade…heroin.”
Arnswald appealed to the crowd to get involved, “Be good neighbors. Create Crime Watch groups. We can’t do it alone. We need the public’s help and information.” He said the city is organizing a meeting for all local Property Owners Association (POA) presidents to get everyone on the same page. Getting them together will allow them to share information on what works. Arnswald said the city does not have the resources to manage a citizens’ watch group but the POAs can manage their group.
He advised citizens to take note of people who may not belong there, but not to confront people. He advised people to lock their doors, lock their cars, gates and install lights and be good neighbors. Notice when neighbors are home, when there is someone that may not belong.
When asked what it takes to establish probable cause, Arnswald explained that facts have to be in place that cause the officer to believe that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. He said that in the case of a search warrant, they have to convince a judge and judges are very careful when giving police the right to knock down someone’s door.
Arnswald said, “The more you can do to protect yourself and prevent crime, the easier it is for us to catch those who commit crimes.” He explained that the police make use of video from cameras at citizens’ homes to aid in the investigation, sometimes putting images out on Facebook to help identify a person.
He said the addition of the K-9 officer has helped and shows the citizens they are serious about combatting crime.
When asked about a task force, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse told what his office is doing with three Narcotics Investiagators who focus on Henderson County, including the GBC area.

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