Winona Police Captain Tommy Bibbs explained that in many cases when a public fight breaks out, those participating are long gone before police arrive at the scene, and witnesses are hesitant to identify and file charges against those involved.
“A police department is only as good as the community makes it,” Bibbs said.
According to the law, unless a police officer is a witness to the fighting, he cannot file charges for disturbing the public peace. Private individuals must sign an affidavit against those involved, but in so many instances, they are unwilling to get involved.
Maybe they fear retaliation.
Maybe they were taught to mind their own business.
Maybe they see those fighting as just kids being kids.
Well, Monday night one of those kids was shot. How many more kids have to get shot before people in this community take a stand?
It is time for people of Winona to say enough. To preserve the small town charm and wholesome atmosphere Winonians have enjoyed for so many years, the citizens of this community must stand up for that quality of life. This begins by alerting the police to illegal behavior in the community and identifying those responsible.
The Winona Police Department has a policy of no tolerance on those disrupting the public peace with hefty fines and a trip to jail, and city leaders agreed to do what is necessary like enacting a curfew for juveniles and budgeting additional funds for public safety.
However, it is time we all got involved.
I urge citizens to take an active role in keeping the peace in Winona’s neighborhoods. Revitalize the Neighborhood Watch Program. Assist law enforcement by reporting those violating the law as well as suspicious behavior. Do your part.
For more information about getting involved in Neighborhood Watch, contact the Winona Police Department at 283-1140.