St. Ignatius leadership takes on crime
ST. IGNATIUS — The St. Ignatius Town Council voted Aug. 5 to implement a bike registry and considered raising fines for misdemeanors in an attempt to crack down a crime wave that officials said has gotten out of control.
The town has suffered a number of stolen bicycles, youth running amok, and other petty crimes in recent weeks.
“It’s definitely a rash,” Councilmember Annie Morigeau said. “It really is a bummer. People go into your yard and take things. My kids’ bikes are all locked up. It’s sad that we have to do that.”
The council members said they hope the situation will improve once a new chief of police is hired. The council extended the deadline to accept applications for the position until the end of August, because of the low number of applicants.
In the meantime, part-time officer Logan Martin has been hard at work protecting the town by himself, leaving coverage gaps for incidents to occur.
“The first thing we need to do is get another officer hired,” Councilmember Daren Incashola said.
Incashola also suggested implementing a bike registry program to help cut down on bike thefts. The program uses barcode stickers to label bikes. In the event the bikes are recovered after a theft, law enforcement can use the sticker to reunite it with its owner.
Officer Martin said he believes it would be helpful. He has retrieved six or seven bicycles in recent weeks, but has been unsuccessful in finding the owners.
The council voted to invest $200 of the police equipment fund to the registry. The registration will cost $5 and funds raised will go back into the bike registration program.
“It’s not going to solve all our problems, but it might get some of these bikes back,” Incashola said.
Councilmember Roger Lemon suggested cracking down on the town’s drug and curfew laws to further curtail crime.
“It’s not all the kids,” Lemon said. “It’s just a few little gangs that are running around here every night. They think that until somebody does something to them, it’s fine.”
Lemon suggested enforcing the town’s curfew, which requires youth to be off the streets by 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
“What if the fine were $1,000 and the parents can either pay the fine when they get caught or we can put them out here for 20 hours of community service?” Lemon said. “We’ll get some suits with some white stripes or some black stripes and we’ll get some volunteers from the senior center to walk with them so they can clean up the streets.”
According to City Clerk LeeAnn Gottfried, there has not been a citation issued for breaking curfew in the past five years. She also pointed out that tribal residents aren’t under the jurisdiction of the city court, which might undermine some of the effectiveness of a crackdown.
Lemon said he has successfully worked with the tribal court in the past to get restitution paid for damages done by troubled youth, and believes it might be possible to get the court on board with stricter enforcement.
Lemon also asked councilmembers to consider posting large signs at the town borders that declare St. Ignatius a drug free zone where maximum fines will be imposed. He wants to raise the misdemeanor drug fine to the maximum $1,500.
The council did not take action on the request.
Resident Carol Morgan said she thinks it a good idea to tackle crime, but that the city’s plan doesn’t address the underlying issue of bored kids getting into trouble.
“The kids have got to have a place to go,” Morgan said. “We need the civic center to open back up.”