Newport Neighborhood Claims Police Neglect

September 3, 2003 - Posted at: 9:00 p.m. CDT

NEWPORT, Ark. -- Residents of west Newport say that local police are doing very little to keep their neighborhood safe, and now community members are patrolling their own police force.

Residents are concerned following two recent shootings that have left officials with very little clues. The most recent incident happened this past weekend, when 23 year-old James Nevels was shot in the shoulder. Police are still trying to determine who shot Nevels.

"They're having problems with the witnesses in that part of town," said Police Chief Michael Scudder of his department's investigators. "Nobody wants to be a witness."

According to the police report on the incident, officials found a bullet hole below a window at a residence. They also found a bullet hole in the windshield of a nearby car.

Aside from that, they don't have additional information, and the residents now say this could have all been prevented, if the police patrolled that area more often.

"This has been boiling up for some time from my understanding," said Newport Alderman Pinkey McFarlin. "I'm going to go to the people in the community, the very man that was injured and ask him what was on his mind."

"They have taken 125 incident reports in that area since February," said Chief Scudder. "They have answered 400 calls in that area since February, so I know they are there."

Scudder said a lot more could be accomplished in that area if the residents in west Newport were more cooperative.

"We will help anyone start up a neighborhood watch. If they want to form one in that area, the police department will help them 100%."