The Newberry Police Department gathered together with the community in the West End area Thursday night to discuss improvements and issues still present in the area.

Police Chief Roy McClurkin said he appreciated the turnout and those that were taking a vested interest in the West End community.

“What you’ll find is one of the biggest problems in communities these days is people not taking ownership of their community and not getting to know their neighbors,” McClurkin said. “We’ve got to get out of that mentality and neighbors have got to know their neighbors so when something happens that doesn’t belong, they can watch out for one another.”

While McClurkin told the community that they may not see a lot in the area, that many things had been going on behind the scenes to make the West End community safer for residents.

Within the next few weeks, McClurkin said residents would begin to see more license checks in the area and that officers would be continuing their directive patrols and be in their neighborhoods as often as they could.

A concern of several members within the community that was discussed Thursday was loitering around the Quick Stop business and impeding traffic on Drayton Street. McClurkin said they would be checking into the issue.

Officers have been addressing vehicles being parked on both sides of the street throughout the West End area, McClurkin said and asking residents to please park in a driveway or out of the street to keep from impeding traffic.

“When you don’t have enough room for a firetruck, ambulance or police car to get through then that is a problem,” McClurkin said.

Officers will also be looking into concerns of motor vehicles speeding through the neighborhoods, he said.

Other citizen concerns included housing violations in various neighborhoods for abandoned homes. City Manager Matt DeWitt said the City’s Planning and Zoning department had posted homes in the area for the owners to do cleanup. However, if the property owner lived outside of Newberry County, it was hard to enforce the cleanup of the home until they returned to the area.

“The biggest issue we have with dilapidated properties are absentee property owners,” DeWitt said. “It takes a lot to condemn private property in South Carolina as the state is very protective of private property.”

Several members of the West End community decided Thursday to collaborate a Crime Watch for their neighborhood. They were put in contact with Sergeant Mike Hawkins, crime prevention officer for the Newberry Police Department to help them get started. The group’s first meeting will be held September 13 at the cabin at Willowbrook Park, 714 Crosson Street at 6:30 p.m.

City Councilman Thomas Louis Boyd along with Mayor Foster Senn echoed the thought that they appreciated the police departments efforts in the West End community and thought there had been a big improvement since beginning the community meetings for the area.

“I’d like to thank the citizens of this area,” Senn said. “Y’all have really made a difference and your input has been appreciated.”

McClurkin said they would continue to work on the issues at hand and as always he was looking for the community’s input to continue the progress made in the area.

“We’re here to help any way we can,” he said.