Russellville residents fearful after meth bust

Russellville Residents want law enforcement to keep an eye on their town after a large meth bust March 20.

A lack of full-time law enforcement has Russellville residents concerned that their town could again become a target for criminals after a large meth bust on March 20.

Although large drug busts are not common in Russellville, which has a population of 807, residents said they are fearful that it could happen again.

"It goes on everywhere," said resident Mike Wickers. "You hear about it in places like Columbia, but you don't expect to hear about it in a small town."

Wickers said he finds it frustrating that if there is an emergency, there is no full-time deputy devoted solely to Russellville. If a crime is committed, Wickers said, the time that law enforcement can respond to emergencies is much longer than if the small town had its own law enforcement.

Other residents shared similar concerns.

"Everyone things that being a small town, Russellville is known for a drug problem. They probably still feel this way after what happened last week," said resident Alex Thompson.

"It's just like anything else in this town. It's going to slide by, 'don't worry about it'," said business owner Ron Scrivner. "That's the attitude they've got in this town."

Captain John Wheeler of the Cole County Sheriff's Office said they had a contract with Russellville to have a full-time deputy employed within city limits, but the city became unable to pay.

Residents said they hope the town can eke out some type of compromise with law enforcement.

"We don't necessarily need to have a full-time cop, just somebody who makes rounds through here on a weekly to maybe daily basis." Thompson said.

Captain Wheeler said although his department shares Russellville's concerns, their desire to place a full-time deputy in town is hampered by lack of funds.

"The problem we have is coverage," Wheeler said. "Trying to cover that many miles with the minimum staffing we have gets difficult at times."

"If they wanted a full-time deputy down there, we would have to bring someone on full-time," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said in the past, federal grants could have made that possible. However, he said grants to local law enforcement agencies for such things have all but dried up.

Without federal money, Wheeler said, small towns like Russellville must make alternative arrangements.