COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Tuesday’s city council meeting included a heated two hours of discussion during a packed public agenda. The topic of conversation; safety concerns and the leadership of Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon.
Following an executive closed door session between the councilors a record 18 people were on Tuesday’s public agenda. Some defending the chief, others calling for a change in leadership and many residents who are tired of the senseless shootings.
Residents across the entire city of Columbus are pleading to their local leaders, as they look for change, saying enough is enough.
“Is it going to take an innocent citizen enjoying the park to be shot for true action to happen? I asked for help 11 months ago and it has fallen on deaf ears. The people here tonight are tired of hearing gunshots. Tired of their cars being broken into. Tired of bodies being dumped on their streets. And most importantly, tired of nothing being done.”Buford King – Peach Little League Board Member, Midtown Resident
A recent Jensen Hughes study found leadership and transparency issues in the department. Tuesday residents questioned why council members are relying on a privately funded study and not disclosing who it was funded by. Council members’ motives were also questioned.
“He is the one that is in charge. Leadership does not come from the bottom up. It comes from the top down. And if they cannot get past their personal pettiness through their personal agendas and circumvent the police chief and call you all and text you all and utilized you all utilized as their pawns There is a great judgment day.”Rev. Adrian Chester – Greater Beallwood Baptist Church
Blackmon’s leadership has been under fire for more than a year as the Columbus police department continues to struggle with retention and recruitment of officers. Those who support Blackmon say his removal comes with racial bias, others disagree.
“Since Chief Blackman’s appointment, over 100 men and women, both black and white, left the Columbus Police Department because of his poor leadership. Several white and black officers left the Columbus Police Department and went to work for Sheriff Greg Countryman, who’s a black man. So where’s the racism if they leave and they’re going to work for another black man?”Byron Hickey – Former CPD Officer of +30 years
Following the meeting Chief Blackmon and city councilors declined WRBL for comment. The meeting was standing room only, with a heavy law enforcement and community presence. The council chambers were at maximum capacity.
There was no resolution to the crime or leadership discussion.