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‘It’s not gonna happen in Elkhorn City’: City responds to safety concerns with new neighborhood watch

Elkhorn City is seeing an increase in concerning crimes, which is being met with a new patrol...
Elkhorn City is seeing an increase in concerning crimes, which is being met with a new patrol program.(WYMT)
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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ELKHORN CITY, Ky. (WYMT) - When a home in the Elkhorn City area was broken into last week, the crime was the last straw for Elkhorn City mayor Mike Taylor.

“It’s hard telling what would have happened if she had walked in her house by herself,” Taylor said.

He said the man who broke in, Howard Randall Starnes, has been a frequent flier on the police department’s radar. According to police chief Bobby Sexton, his “bizarre behavior” has included complaints from Dollar General where he was reportedly scaring customers and several complaints in the city park.

Starnes was arrested Friday when police charged him with criminal trespassing and public intoxication. Taylor says he broke into the home and stayed in the home all day until its owner returned with her children.

“This boy had the nerve to stay in this house ‘til 6:30 in the evening the next day. And her, with that little baby on her side, would have walked through that door if the neighbors hadn’t found that dog and was bringing it back at that time,” Taylor said.

He said the homeowner was lucky to have neighbors with her when she entered the home and found Starnes there. That idea of neighborly support, paired with the increase in concerns like this across the city, sparked a decision to re-establish the neighborhood watch program.

“I want to send them a message out there. It’s not gonna happen in Elkhorn City. I mean, we’re gonna stand up for what’s right and we’ve got the men in this town to stand up and make it right,” Taylor said.

He sent out an all-call to the city server Saturday, asking the town’s men to join for an impromptu meeting at the community center to discuss plans for a patrol team to help the city police when they are limited on manpower and location.

After sending out the message, some community members took to Facebook to share concerns that only men were invited to be a part of the meeting, saying the issues in the town should be a discussion for all of its people. Taylor said he never meant to gender the discussion, but he had the women and children of the city on his mind when he sent the message. He said he invites anyone interested in patrolling to join the group.

“It’s going to be just like a neighborhood watch,” he said. “Everybody’s ready to do it.”

He said he hopes to have designated mirror hangers for cars of people who want to patrol, showing the community that neighbors are watching their backs.

“And these kids ain’t going to have to be locked in the house and not enjoy life. We’re gonna make sure of that. And that’s why we need to get together as a community and surrounding communities, to take care of the people that live here,” Taylor said.

Taylor plans to announce the next meeting when the details are more concrete.

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