Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Crowd packs council meeting

Lakeside Park residents voice safety concerns

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LAKESIDE PARK - An overflow crowd of about 60 residents packed council chambers Monday night to voice concerns about crime and safety issues in their neighborhood.

About a dozen speakers - mostly residents of Carran Drive, where an 83-year-old widower was bludgeoned to death in his home Saturday - told council they had concerns about the recent killing, as well as break-ins, speeding and noise on their residential street. They also complained of a perceived lack of follow-up by police after initial complaints.

Mayor Karen Gamel told the Carran Drive residents that City Council and police would meet with their chosen representatives "to find solutions and answers" to their concerns.

"We will come together in the next two or three weeks to discuss these things," said Gamel.

"We are all here for the events that have taken place on Carran Drive," resident David Devita told council at the beginning of the meeting. Devita said he and his neighbors wanted "to see what we can do to make Carran Drive as safe as it has been in the past."

As for the Saturday slaying, Devita said, "I think the sense of the community is that it could have been avoided. Police could have been more diligent."

Several residents told council there had been suspicious activity at that residence for years, and one resident said police had told her officers had been responding to the home since 1991.

Carran Drive resident Frank Decker said he moved to Lakeside Park because of its good schools, good churches and safe neighborhoods.

"I'm afraid this is the beginning of something bigger," Decker told council.

"I understand their frustration," Lakeside Park-Crestview/Hills Police Chief Paul Herbst said of the Carran Drive residents who voiced complaints.

"It's just the fact of the matter we cannot order you not to have people in your house," referring to the Saturday death. One of the men charged lived in the home of the man he is charged with killing.

As for the other complaints, including the perceived lack of follow-up by his officers, Herbst said he would be glad to meet with residents to discuss their concerns.


E-mail bweathers@enquirer.com

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