Houston County Sheriff: “Actively on board” with taking back streets

Donald Valenza talks about a recent string of arrests made in Houston County as well as the Sheriff's Office attempts to crackdown on recent violence.
Updated: Dec. 2, 2022 at 2:00 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza delivered a strong message on Friday: the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and Dothan Police Department are “actively on board” with working together to stop a recent string of gun violence in the city of Dothan and surrounding areas.

Valenza met with the media during a press conference on Friday, and laid out strong statements about his and Dothan Police Chief Will Benny’s mission to take back the streets in Dothan.

“With the events going on in Dothan right now, the Dothan Police Department and the Houston County Sheriff’s Office are going to be on the streets taking back these illegal possession of firearms,” said Valenza.

“We are asking for the community’s support, but the ones that are illegally possession these handguns and firearms and doing these shootings, we are gonna go after them.

Valenza also detailed a recent massive arrest effort by the Sheriff’s Office since Tuesday. As part of that on November 29, HCSO executed 3 search warrants in the 600 Block of Tacoma Street in Dothan. These search warrants resulted in the following findings:

  • Around 115 grams of Marijuana.
  • Around 142 grams of Synthetic Marijuana.
  • Around 32 grams of Cocaine.
  • Around 10 grams of Crack.
  • Around 4 grams of Methamphetamines.
  • 5 firearms, including 1 of the firearms confirmed stolen in the Money Mizer Pawn burglary.

5 Dothan residents were arrested as a result of this sting:

  • Damien Antwon Jackson (35) - Drug Trafficking, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuana 1st Degree - $1.54M bond
  • Anthony Jerome Thomas (33) - Drug Trafficking, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuana 1st Degree - $1.54M bond
  • Travis Santel Poke (42) - Drug Trafficking, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuana 1st Degree - $1.54M bond
  • Johny Fitzgerald Jones (34) - Drug Trafficking, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuana 1st Degree - $1.54M bond
  • Donnie Rafael Smith (35) - 2 counts of Drug Trafficking, Receiving Stolen Property 2nd degree, Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Marijuana 1st Degree - $3.04M bond

On December 1, a 14-year-old juvenile on probation was found in possession of a 22 caliber handgun during a traffic stop and was taken into custody. Several other unrelated drug arrests were also made, with those arrested ranging from 19 to 41 years of age.

Valenza went on to say he is asking for not just the public’s support, but also patience.

“Give us time, be patient, and let us do our jobs. Don’t be first to criticize until you find out all the facts.”

You can watch the full conference with Valenza in the video above.

Dothan Police released their own information on Friday about a recent crime crackdown operation. You can read more on that in this story linked here.

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