Austin Police Chief says he needs more manpower to fight drug pr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Austin Police Chief says he needs more manpower to fight drug problem

Posted: Updated:

AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) -- It's a hot, sunny morning on the north side of Austin, Indiana. It seems quiet but some neighbors say that isn't the case for criminal activity. 

"Prostitution, drug addicts, they walk and run the street right out here in front of our home," said resident Dottie Titus. 

Austin is considered ground zero for an epidemic that's led to more than 180 people testing positive for HIV. 

Health officials say it has spread primarily through IV drug users sharing needles. 

"They're very, very brazen," Titus said. "Nothing stops them." 

With state support, several new services are now available in town for those affected. But police say their tools remain the same and so does the drug problem. 

"I don't see that it's gotten much better but I don't know that it's gotten much worse," 

Chief Donald Spicer says his department is outnumbered. For example, Austin has six officers but Scottsburg has 13 because the population is bigger. Yet Spicer says data shows both departments have gotten almost the same amount of calls from dispatch so far this year. Austin has received 4,395 calls while Scottsburg has gotten 4,525. 

"If I go down the road right now and try to watch a house we know is dealing drugs just to see who's coming and going, we'll have five calls come across the radio within 15 to 20 minutes. I can't stay put," Spicer said. 

Spicer claims federal statistics show that Austin should have around 12 officers instead of six. But he says Austin doesn't have the tax base to support more officers so he recently brought the problem to the governor's attention. 

"Maybe he has someone on his staff that can help us find the grants or maybe there are some grants out there that we're not aware of that they could steer us to," Spicer told WDRB. 

He says adding more officers will likely come down to state or federal grants. In the meantime he's asking residents to keep calling in tips. 

"We're probably overwhelmed everyday but we continue to fight," Spicer said. "We don't give up." 

"It is our heartfelt prayer that something will be done. Something to get these people help but it cannot all be addressed medically. It has to be addressed with them, with consequences as well," Titus said. 

Spicer says there is an open position at the dept right now and he hopes to have that filled as soon as possible. 

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.