Crack Dealers Take Over Neighborhood

Pennsylvania St. Residents, Police Fight Back

Imagine coming home from work and seeing drug dealers smoking crack on the sidewalk in front of your house.

Residents who live on Pennsylvania Street near Colfax tell 7NEWS, it's not that uncommon.

"It's 24/7," said one resident who asked to remain anonymous. "They're there night and day."

7NEWS obtained photos that show a deal in progress, and one of the users lighting up in broad daylight.

"I've seen my neighbors pushing a baby stroller down the street, and (the dealers) will come up and ask them if they want to buy drugs,” said the resident.

“It’s gotten worse,” said a property owner, who also asked for anonymity. “I believe this activity is connected to the violence we’ve seen downtown.”

“It’s pretty scary at 3 o’clock in the morning and you’ve got 5 or 6 guys approaching you,” the resident said. “You don’t know if you’re about to be the victim of an armed robbery or a beating. Or even a car-jacking. You’re relieved when they simply ask if you want to buy drugs.”

The resident told 7NEWS that he has seen numerous assaults. He remembers one in particular, a dealer viciously beating an elderly drug user.

“I’ve heard some punches before, but man I swear to god, this sounded like someone was breaking a board over this guy’s head. I turned and looked and he saw me and said, ‘you call the cops and you’re next.’”

Both the resident and the property owner said that when they call police, it takes a long time for them to respond.

One said that when they took their concerns to city hall, there was no action.

That may be changing.

New District 6 Police Commander Tony Lopez met with several neighbors Monday and said the department will shift more resources in to that area.

A 7NEWS crew saw several squad cars driving up and down Pennsylvania Street on Thursday.

Lopez said, “There are people in the neighborhood who have addictions and there are people who come to the neighborhood to prey on those people’s addictions.”

The commander added that by adding patrols and working with neighbors to identify the dealers, they hope to make arrests.

It won’t end the problem, he said, but it will help residents who feel overwhelmed.