Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jul 2003
Source: Anderson Independent-Mail (SC)
Copyright: 2003 Independent Publishing Company, a division of E.W. Scripps
Author: Emily Huigens, Independent-Mail


PENDLETON - Pendleton police have arrested more people for simple drug
possession this month than in the preceding six months combined after
a fatal shooting prompted a "get-tough" policy when dealing with drug

Following a shooting that killed a 22-year-old man at the Pendleton
Community Center on June 30, Pendleton police heightened their
crime-prevention efforts in response to concerns from community members.

So far this month, police have arrested and charged 38 people with
drug possession, one person with trafficking crack and marijuana and
resisting arrest and one person with possession with intent to distribute.

Between the months of January and June, just 15 people were arrested
in Pendleton on drug possession charges; one with drug paraphernalia,
and one for trafficking a controlled substance, police department
records show.

The increase was facilitated by more checkpoints on the streets, along
with tips from crime witnesses, Police Chief Jesse Harris said.

"I think a lot of citizens have reached a point where enough is
enough," he said.

Russell Manzolillo had reached that point last month. At the June Town
Council meeting, he asked for a crackdown on drugs in his

A resident of Pendleton for 10 years, he said he fears his home being
stormed by people in search of drugs and drug money. He worries about
his grandson playing in his front yard.

He said Thursday he approves of the license checks and other
strategies the police have used to find drugs moving in and out of the
town since the most recent shooting.

"I do feel like Chief Harris and his group of officers are headed in
the right direction, and I am pleased," he said.

Chief Harris said the arrests have ranged from small-time users to
big-time dealers.

"We're not seizing kilos, but you've got to start somewhere," he

He said checkpoints are the best way he knows to stop the drug
trafficking with limited resources.

A few residents are wondering, however, whether police officers are so
intent on getting tough that they have lost track of the rights of the
people they are protecting.

At a community meeting Tuesday at Pendleton Elementary School, one
woman accused police of kicking and spitting on a man they recently

Chief Harris said his officers are trained to treat everyone with
respect, and said one recent incident where a man was injured during
his arrest stemmed from the man attacking officers who were trying to
take him into custody.

"We're not a Gestapo; we're not a military force," he said. "We will
not violate a person's civil liberties."
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