Morgan Continues Fight Against Crime In North Escambia, Announces Undercover Drug Buys
April 23, 2009
From bike patrols, to traffic crackdowns, to undercover drug buys, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department has been busy in Century and surrounding areas in North Escambia since a new sheriff took office.
For weeks, undercover officers have videotaped drug buys in Century. Now warrants have been issued and arrests are being made, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said Wednesday afternoon.
“We are being more proactive in the north end,” the sheriff said, adding that he expects to put five additional deputies on the streets in North Escambia by August. Overall, Morgan said he would characterize crime in Century to be “mid-level” at worse, not the the level seen in some Pensacola areas where gang activity is rampant.
“While we have been in denial in Escambia County about gangs, we do have them,” Morgan said, adding that his department has identified about 15 different gangs operating in the county. The rival gangs have led to “turf wars”, and several shootings in the past few weeks. The sheriff’s department has identified gang members as young as 1o-years old selling crack cocaine.
“We’ve got some pretty serious issues facing us in law enforcement,” the sheriff said. About 1,200 criminals — guilty of crimes from bad checks to murder — will return to Escambia County’s streets next year after finishing their prison citizens. That, he said, may lead to more crime.
With 300 deputies and a county that stretches from Century to the beaches, Morgan said Century and North Escambia present a unique challenge in law enforcement.
“The response in a city environment is different that in a rural environment,” the first-term sheriff said. “In a small community, they get on their cell phones as soon as you make one arrest, then you are done.”
But that does not deter Morgan.
“I intend to terrorize these guys,” he said. His department has made 512 street level narcotics arrests this year.
“I am coming when I come for them; then I am coming back again,” Morgan said. “You get them off balance and you keep them off balance. They need to know that I’ll be back.”
For economic development to happen in a place like Century, or any other Escambia County community, there must be a safe, low crime environment.
“When you’ve got to pick your street or drive around the crack deals, that’s not going to make a good economy,” he said. There are pockets of crime like that in Century, the sheriff said specifically mentioning about a three block area around Pond Street.
Morgan’s comments were delivered to the Tri-City Rotary Club at the group’s weekly meeting. The sheriff attended the meeting as an invited guest of NorthEscambia.com.
Also at that meeting was Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff Grover Smith.
“I know we’ve got a common state line, and we have to work with your office,” the Escambia, Alabama sheriff told the Escambia, Florida sheriff. “We’re glad to help you in any way. We are very happy with the changes you have made, especially in Century.”
After the Rotary Club meeting in Flomaton, Morgan stopped by the department’s Century Precinct to discuss local crime with the deputies that work Century and surrounding area of North Escambia.
Local residents will have an opportunity to meet Sheriff Morgan, hear him speak and express their concerns about law enforcement in North Escambia at two upcoming meetings. Morgan will hold a town hall meeting at Fran’s Diner in Molino at 6 p.m. on April 30, and a second town hall meeting in Century at the Panhandle Restaurant at 6 p.m on May 7.
Pictured above: Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan (L) looks at a North Escambia crime report with Sgt. David Preston Wednesday afternoon at the department’s Century Precinct. Pictured below (L-R): Morgan discusses crime with Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff Grover Smith and Chief Deputy Mike Lambeth. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.