COLUMBUS, Ga. — A forum called to address crime in Columbus. On the panel: The Muscogee County Sheriff, Marshal, Columbus Police Chief and the head of the Columbus Crime Prevention Department.
Some of the topics highlighted: gangs in Columbus, not feeling confident when reporting tips to police, and focusing too much time on misdemeanor arrests.
“We speak about gangs but do we really understand the gang culture? Is it a gang culture or is it just a process of young people.”
That was one issue raised during Tuesday’s Crime Prevention Forum. Representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, Marshal’s Office, Columbus Police Department and the Columbus Crime Prevention Department were present. Columbus police say there are about four gangs in the city. They include the Bloods, Crips and Gangster Disciples. Another issue raised, focusing too much attention on misdemeanor arrests.
“One week I had 55 people in my county jail who had been charged with misdemeanor by the following Monday I had five people left,” says Sheriff Donna Tompkins.
The sheriff says she’s seeing murderers and armed robbers among those being held in the Muscogee County Jail. She also mentioned, they were looking to hire, as the department is short about 30 positions. Some people raised the issue of trust. Saying they don’t trust police enough to provide information on crimes because they don’t feel safe.
“The guy that was killed a couple weeks ago the Porter guy who was supposed to actually be testifying for the state why was he not protected?” says Waleisah Wilson.
Waleisah Wilson is referencing the murder of 35-year-old Travis Porter, who was shot in the head, in the Hannah Heights Apartments on Farr Road. Another concern, crimes apparently involving more young people and a lack of parents being involved in their children’s lives.
“There’s an old saying it takes a village to raise a child,” says Marshal Greg Countryman.
Marshal Greg Countryman says he encourages his department to practice community policing.
“The parents are not there…sometimes we have to be the parent. If we can start seeing the positive things in the worst situations. I think we can heal better,” says Countryman.
Police Chief Ricky Boren also weighed in on the department shortage. He says they are currently looking to hire more than 70 people. He says this includes more than just hiring officers to work in the field.