Kryzra Stallworth spends her days helping organize storm recovery efforts at the East Biloxi relief center directed by her husband. She's convinced one of the biggest post-Katrina problems in East Biloxi is crime.
"Our warehouses have been broken into four or five times. Our children cannot play in parks or certain areas because of the drug activities," Stallworth said.
Recognizing police can only do so much, Stallworth is intent on energizing neighbors. As workers stay busy rebuilding parks and homes post-Katrina, she's renewing the idea of Neighborhood Watch groups.
"What good is this really nice home if you don't feel safe living in it? If you are uncomfortable living in it? If you can't sit on your porch because you're worried about what's going to happen?"
Her husband echoed those concerns about crime at Tuesday's council meeting.
"They are becoming a lot more brazen in their operations. We have observed drug trading going back and forth. We've watched and tried to do everything we can to try and curtail that," Ward 2 Councilman Bill Stallworth said.
East Biloxi neighbors say it will take a combination of citizen involvement and community pride to keep the criminal element in check. They say now is a critical time, given the ongoing renewal and recovery from the hurricane.
Sheila Miller lives next to the newly refurbished John Henry Beck Park. She doesn't want it overrun with drug dealing.
"We want to keep it very nice for the people here. For the children to enjoy themselves and give them a place to play," Miller said. "The cops can't be here all the time. And people need to look out for one another in East Biloxi. Then, when we do have a problem, we can call the cops and tell them where the problem is. And I think the neighborhood watch would be a very good thing for East Biloxi."
Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan said while there has been an increase in certain crimes since Katrina, he disagrees with Councilman Stallworth's assessment that East Biloxi has been "bombarded" with drugs and prostitution since the storm.
The chief agrees that citizen involvement is "critical" and he welcomes any new neighborhood watch groups.
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