Teens express concerns to Police Department

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, April 12, 2007

Many students attending a recent Teen 411 forum had questions for the Picayune Police Department, some concerning officers smoking and conducting illegal maneuvers in patrol vehicles such as speeding down the road without lights or sirens and unfriendly people who answer the phone.

One student asked why sometimes he may see an officer traveling fast on the road with no lights or sirens, as though he is going to an emergency. Capt. Lawrence Krantz said there are times when an officer has to approach an area unannounced. However, if witnesses believe the officer is just traveling fast with no real emergency to get to, Krantz asked them to get the car number and call him about it.

A couple of other students mentioned that they have witnessed officers smoking in their vehicles while on duty and wondered if there is a regulation against it. Krantz said smoking in a patrol vehicle is against the department’s policy and asked students to again get the car number and inform him of such situations.

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Another student expressed his concern about an officer cutting in front of another car in an illegal maneuver. Chief Jim Luke said from time to time there are officers that do not abide by the law. Luke also asked students to report such incidents so they can be handled.

One student reported a police department employee was rude when her mother reported an incident to the deparment. The student said she and a friend walk home and there have been several times when a motorist would ride up on to the curb and harass them. When the girl’s mother called the department about the incident, the person who answered the phone was rude and used language the girl did not want to repeat.

Deputy Chief David Ervin said all conversations on the phone at the department are recorded and said citizens should immediately report the incident to the department so they can review the recording.

One student wanted to know what was keeping a troublemakers from learning emergency response techniques so they could circumvent them. Luke said to combat such situations, there are four or five approved locations to take students in the event of danger. Those locations are rotated to avoid predictable courses of action troublemakers could exploit.

Deputy Chief David Ervin said during the last stint of bomb threats students were taken to the same area, but only after the area had been cleared. He said the police department anticipated another bomb threat and checked the auditorium for a bomb before taking students there.

The possibility of a student carrying the bomb into the safe zone was posed by another student. In those instances, the department asks students to provide any information they may have about a student who may do that.

“That’s the kind of information we need and we depend on you to supply that,” Ervin said.

Safety was another concern with the report of the child struck at Friendship Park.

City manager Ed Pinero said Picayune has taken measures to prevent those kind of incidents in the future. They installed speed bumps, more speed limit signs and marked crosswalks.

“It may seem a little bit overkill, but when it comes to public safety more is better than less,” Pinero said.

Other students wanted to know how to become a fireman. Picayune fire fighter of the year Tony Scharenbroch said potential applicants must pass many physical ability tests and be tested for a fear of heights and confined spaces. Applicants should have a diploma but a GED is accepted.

Another student asked if there is a junior firefighter program. Scharenbroch said some volunteer fire departments in the county do have them, but the Picayune Fire Department does not.

A couple of students wanted to know about the proper level of tinting for automobile windows. Ervin said the acceptable level has been lowered from 35 percent to 28 percent. On SUVs, the rear windows can be darker but the driver and passenger side front windows and the rear window must be no more than 28 percent.

Several students had complaints of motorists traveling too fast in areas near the school since they walk home. Capt. Lawrence Krantz said he has some officers in the area and will address the students’ concerns to his officers.

Ervin said that soon there will be six more patrol officers coming from the academy and they will help ensure traffic laws are followed.

Speeding on Caesar Road was a concern for another student since it is such a dangerous road. Tuesday a mother and her unborn child died on that road in a head-on collision. Ervin said officers typically allow up to 10 miles an hour to compensate for speedometer error, but in residential areas officers would allow only five miles an hour leeway. However, Caesar Road is under the jurisdiction of the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, officers explained.

Luke asked students to join the security council to take part to help change things they may see that are wrong.

“We challenge the students to make a difference in their school by taking pride and honorship,” Luke said.

Any questions that were asked at the forum students would like answers to can be asked via the Teen 411 website linked to http://www.picayunepolicedepartment.com/teen-411.htm.