Aurora & Marionville Police Dept. chief working to curb squatting

Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT
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AURORA, Mo. (KY3) - The Aurora-Marionville police chief, Wes Coatney, said he already sees issues with squatters in empty and abandoned houses.

Chief Coatney said that while focusing on drug and substance abuse issues, the setback can be when people get out of jail for these crimes. They don’t have somewhere to go and refuse to get the right help.

“It can be deadly,” said Chief Coatney. “It can be deadly, not only to the person that is squatting but to the people around.”

Coatney said an inadequate place to sleep could turn dangerous fast.

“A squatter was in a residence, no electricity, no gas, no anything, and in order to cook some food, they built a fire in the floor,” said Chief Coatney.

Chief Coatney said many are on some drugs, and when released, they refuse to stop and get help.

“If we have to come and get you, we will probably arrest you, but if you come to us and say you want help, you’d like to get out of that lifestyle and that you would like to save your own life,” said Chief Coatney. “We will surround you with folks that will help.”

Chief Coatney said his department and city leaders could assist the homeless by providing shelter, food, and other resources.

“If somebody makes a proactive attempt to get help, then we aren’t going to use that as a reason to take them to jail,” said Chief Coatney.

If you own an empty home, Chief Coatney encourages you to have trusted neighbors check the area. He said to use locks, board up windows, and use security equipment. If you or a loved one needs help, reach out.

“It’s just a very hard nut to crack,” said Chief Coatney. “But plant the seed, make the offer, make it known to people that we’re available for help.”

Call Aurora-Marionville police and speak with an officer or ask for the mental health liaison Call (417) 678-5025.

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