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Columbia community has split response over drug deaths

Some Columbia residents are expressing concern after they say they were kept in the dark about a series of overdose deaths.

ABC 17 News received an email sent on behalf of the Benton Stephens Neighborhood Association to police and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala.

The letter cites ABC 17’s Tuesday night coverage of the two men who were charged after police tied four overdose deaths to a home on Woodrow Street. It says police were dispatched to Woodrow Street 16 times in the past year and six of those were to the home police have now tied to four overdose deaths.

“We understand the police are under lots of pressure, being pulled this way and that, but we simply cannot accept this is the best that can be done,” the letter, which was written by the president of the neighborhood association, states. “We understand the recent increase in downtown crime has caused a refocusing of police patrols in that area, however, with two overdose deaths, a few suspected drug dealing houses, burglaries, car thefts, bike thefts, assaults, and numerous accounts of gunfire in the streets — all of which have occurred in the last 6 – 12 months — I think we deserve better.”

On Thursday, some residents in the area said they agreed with the letter but others said they were satisfied with how police handled the situation.

The president of the neighborhood association told ABC 17 News they are trying to take responsibility for what’s happening in their neighborhood, but they can’t do that without information.

The letter asks a representative from the Columbia Police Department to attend their next neighborhood meeting to discuss crime statistics.

The officer who received the letter said he was out of town and unavailable to talk about the letter. ABC 17 News also tried to contact Skala, but never heard back.

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