Columbus mayor, police chief address city’s crime issues

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The day Columbus recorded its 29th murder of the year, Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson and Police Chief Freddie Blackmon sat down with WRBL News 3 to talk about the growing problem.

And its not just homicides.

Friday night, Christopher Rance was awaken by a crash off Cherokee Avenue that was followed by gunshots.

A stray bullet went into his apartment and through the headboard of the bed he was just sleeping in.

What does the mayor say to this man?

“I am upset and angry,” the mayor said. “And I think that everybody who lives in this community should be upset and angry that these types of things continue to happen.”

Both the Columbus mayor and police chief say the same thing when asked about the crime issue in the city.

Since January 1st, there have been 29 murders in Columbus. A pace right now to top 60 before year’s end.

“The vast majority and I don’t know the number but it has to be upward of 80 or 90 percent is people who know each other,” Henderson said. “They are not unfamiliar with one another. Like I said, there is either a transaction going on that goes bad or somebody they are dating, and they break up with and they go get even.”

And it usually ends in gun violence.

“It is frustrating when you work cases, and you see individuals who do not have the idea or thought process to resolve conflict through communication,” Blackmon said. “There are several other ways to resolve conflict other than through gunfire.”

Does Henderson see an end in sight?

“Well, I think there is an end in sight,” he said. “And it’s a path we have to encourage people to walk with us. The answer is not solely police on the street.”

Chief Blackmon echoed that sentiment. He says the solution lies in educational, business, mental health and social service components.

“We need all hands on deck,” echoing something he has been repeating the last several months. “We need educational pieces. We need the business community. We need social services. We need mental health providers. We need all assistance to provide services that are needed in our community.”

And the problem is not limited to Columbus are this area.

“It seems like the vast majority of the shootings we have had in Columbus, Ga., are just like the shootings taking place — I have talked to mayors in Macon, Augusta, and all over Georgia and our city manager talks to people from all over the Southeast region,” Henderson said. “And everyone is facing the same thing. Having said that, I am focused on Columbus. Our police chief is focused on Columbus. Our sheriff is focused on Columbus. But there is an epidemic of people who have conflicts with one another. And the way they try and resolve those conflicts is with a gun.”

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