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More police sought at housing complex

Six years ago, barricades were erected on the main arteries leading to Hillside Estates so that traffic would enter and exit the federally subsidized complex from Liberty Street.

For drug dealers that meant there was only one way in and out.

Last year, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office reopened an underutilized apartment at 325 Continental Ave. as a substation.

Housing officials requested an additional police presence to address quality of life issues in the low-income housing development in southeast Brooksville.

"But that was the end of it," said Helen H. Fleming, chairwoman of the Brooksville Housing Authority Board. "They did not follow through."

Previous measures have served only as a Band-Aid to a problem that does not seem to go away. Many of the drug dealers have returned, Fleming said.

In desperation, housing officials went directly to the City Council for help.

On Monday night, the Brooksville Housing Authority, which manages the complex, requested that the Sheriff's Office and Brooksville Police Department do more than sporadically occupy the substation. They say they want more police and sheriff's patrols _ a real presence in Hillside Estates.

"They come when we call, but it is not going to stop the problem," Fleming said on Tuesday.

Despite their history of not working closely together, officials from the Brooksville Police Department and the Sheriff's Office have agreed to talk about what can be done at Hillside Estates, which is within the city's jurisdiction. A report addressing the law enforcement options will be presented to the City Council at the Jan. 24 meeting.