Residents Join Together to ‘Take Back Bridgewater’ From Drug Users

Residents Join Together to ‘Take Back Bridgewater’ From Drug Users
Residents Join Together to ‘Take Back Bridgewater’ From Drug Users

BRIDGEWATER, Iowa -- "Well, it isn't getting any better, because now I have to lock all my doors," said 95-year-old Dorothy McCall.

McCall has lived in Bridgewater for close to four decades and has always felt safe in the quiet community.

"Absolutely, until about this last year, and then these folks moved in next door that are druggies," said McCall.

McCall was shaken up by an incident in which someone showed up at her house at two o'clock in the morning, before being scared off by a security light.

"I hadn't locked my doors at all until this episode," she said.

McCall also believes someone entered her house when she wasn't home.

"I think all they want is money for drugs, but they have been known to steal from around, in the neighborhood."

Adair County Sheriff Jeff Vandewater says drug-related thefts have been a problem.

"Without a doubt, meth is the driving force," said Vandewater. "And, to fund the addiction of methamphetamine, you know, I think that had led to thefts of property to try to sell that stolen property for monetary gain to purchase additional drugs."

The community does not have a police department, so it's up to the sheriff's office to handle crime.

"We're spread pretty thin," said Sheriff Vandewater. "There's five sworn total, myself and four deputies for the county. So that does make it challenging."

Residents have rallied together to fill in the gap and "Take Back Bridgewater," essentially forming a neighborhood watch for the entire town, where neighbors look out for one another.

"As far as the state goes, they failed us, because putting them (drug users) in prison is not the answer all the time," said City Council Member Marlo Smith. "We need more mental health facilities and we need better drug rehabilitation programs for them."

One idea that might help combat the problem is hiring another law enforcement officer in the county. Smith says a federal grant has been identified to pay for that hiring. The watch group is currently looking into pursuing that grant and is discussing it with the county supervisors.