Tree to Remain, for the Time Being

A large oak tree that has been a gathering place for drug dealers will not be cut down.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office is working with Fritz Tree Service to develop alternatives to removing the tree.

Some residents of the Sylvania Heights area had suggested removing the tree. After that proposal received publicity this week, Fritz Tree Service offered to donate its services free of charge.

Professional pruning may reduce or eliminate areas used to conceal illegal drugs, and may make the area less attractive to drug dealers.

The tree is located on Cypress Street, where Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies have responded to or initiated 402 calls so far this year. At least 50 of those calls have been directly classified as narcotics complaints, and many others are directly or indirectly drug-related.

A full-time Community Policing Unit is based in the Sylvania Heights neighborhood. Sheriff's Deputies constantly work with citizens of the area to improve public safety.