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Residents give Harrisburg substation mixed reviews

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A sheriff's office substation that opened last summer in Harrisburg was heralded as a way to increase police presence in a crime-ridden neighborhood, but opinions are mixed as to whether it's done any good.

The building for the Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff's Department substation at 1804 Fenwick St. was donated by nearby Platt's Funeral Home.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
The building for the Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff's Department substation at 1804 Fenwick St. was donated by nearby Platt's Funeral Home.

"It hasn't really changed anything," said Frank Christian, a Harrisburg property owner who would rather see deputies walking a beat in the neighborhood than parking in the substation driveway.

The renovated duplex at 1804 Fenwick St. was donated by Platt's Funeral Home on nearby Crawford Avenue. Volunteer work and donated supplies spruced up the small red brick house as a multi-purpose building for deputies.

Corrine Curtis, a co-owner of Platt's, said it's helped "quite a bit."

"We wanted to restore homes and a better way of life," Curtis said.

Neither the Richmond County Sheriff's Office nor the Downtown Development Authority, which oversaw the project, have any hard evidence on the substation's impact on area crime. But the need for it was illustrated the day it opened last July when deputies raided a suspected drug house a few blocks away from the ribbon cutting.

Sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay said he has heard complaints about substations sitting empty. Further investigation usually shows that deputies are there, just not when someone is watching, he said.

A common argument for substations is that it's a good place for deputies to write their incident reports. Richmond County deputies can already write most reports from laptop computers in their cruisers.

Gay acknowledged the sheriff's office is in transition toward a "paperless" system, but said there will always be a need for a place to write reports. Diagrams in accident reports, for instance, are sketched by hand, he said.

The paperless system might mean that some substations are eventually shuttered, but Gay sees a long-term need for the Harrisburg substation. The substation sits at the nexus of several beats and is ideally situated near several major roads, which makes it useful not just for road deputies but traffic deputies and the crime suppression team, he said.

Harrisburg resident Lori Davis, who recently campaigned for mayor on a pledge to clean up crime, lives a few streets away from the substation. She said it's "rare" when she drives by to see a deputy at the substation.

The Rev. Kelly McKnight, the pastor of Bible Deliverance Temple, said the neighborhood is still dealing with crime and other issues. The church, which sits on the same block as the substation, has taken proactive measures for its evening services, such as bright lights around the parking lot and escorts out to cars.

With 37 homicides to date in Augusta -- including two teenagers found shot to death Thursday-- McKnight is also considering hiring an off-duty deputy for his congregation's protection.

On the positive side, McKnight said he is seeing an increased police presence. Sunday night, he said he saw three different squad cars from his front porch.

McKnight said it's been a positive experience and that it's unrealistic to expect a deputy to be at the substation 24/7.

"It was never explained that way to me," he said.

Comments (13) Add comment
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GoGators2010
0
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GoGators2010 11/27/10 - 04:32 am
0
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The Harrisburgers would

The Harrisburgers would complain that their ice cream is too cold on a hot summer day. I'm sick of hearing/reading it. You chose to live there, so shut up or move. The entire county/city is not all about a chunk of slumlord "investors" trying to turn a profit. Get over yourselves.

peonynut
2
Points
peonynut 11/27/10 - 08:18 am
0
0
Deputies are there but just

Deputies are there but just not when people are looking?

charliemanson
1
Points
charliemanson 11/27/10 - 08:50 am
0
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Crime doesn't slow down

Crime doesn't slow down because you have a sheriff's substation, nearby. Check out the crime rate at Glenwood apts. Their substation has officers who spend time at it. If a substation doesn't have an effect on crime at an apt complex, how in the world do anyone think a substation going to help reduce crime in an entire community.

Riverman1
82249
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Riverman1 11/27/10 - 08:58 am
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The city of Augusta is in a

The city of Augusta is in a crisis situation with crime. Murders are occurring at a record rate. The Harrisburg residents are trying to fight this cancer and should be applauded. They play withing the rules and try to cooperate with law enforcement. One of their businesses gave the building for the substation and the residents fixed it up. They are trying to stop the crime wave. If the other communities would follow suit, possibly the city would be safer.

Could the Sheriff's Office improve utilization and police presence in the neighborhoods? Absolutely. For whatever reason we are at rock bottom now with crime prevention and HAVE to try other measures.

OIC
25
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OIC 11/27/10 - 09:05 am
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Richmond County Deputies have

Richmond County Deputies have been required to submit typed reports for at least two years. Almost all Deputies in Richmond County utilize EZ Street on their computers to complete their diagrams for accident reports. This Sheriff's Office public relations officer needs to do research before he give statements to the media.

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/27/10 - 11:58 am
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GG2010, evidently the

GG2010, evidently the neighborhood you live in has no crime issue, which means you probably live in a fairly nice area which means you probably could afford to live most anywhere you wish. I made a number of assumptions in that statement just as you did in yours. Namely that those in Harrisburg could just "move". Well most of these people don't have the means to just "move" and secondly and most importantly we will NOT shut up. Be prepared to hear us scream often and loudly for as long as it takes to get help.If those who are "sick of hearing/reading about it" don't like it...then "get over yourselves".

Lori Davis
905
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Lori Davis 11/27/10 - 12:17 pm
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GG, I have a beautifully

GG, I have a beautifully restored historic home in Harrisburg which I would invite you to come and see sometime. Once you have done that then feel free to say whatever you wish about a neighborhood we are trying to take back from criminals and drug dealers. It's as simple as that.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 11/27/10 - 12:50 pm
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Lori, As Bill Clinton said "I

Lori, As Bill Clinton said "I feel your pain". My office is at the tip of Harrisburg and we now have to lock our doors during the daytime because of the potential to get robbed by the drug people and all the riff raft that section 8 has moved into the area.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 11/27/10 - 12:57 pm
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Corporal, Maybe the residents

Corporal, Maybe the residents of Harrisburg need to bear down hard on the people who allow drunks and drug heads to congregate on their property. Make the homeowners clean the trash off their property and other things that make the area look blighted. Just ride up the alley by the corner store on the right side of the road and look behind the houses. Nothing but trash and discarded items behind the houses.

Lori Davis
905
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Lori Davis 11/27/10 - 01:21 pm
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WW, It's not that simple

WW, It's not that simple because in the state of Georgia landlords are not responsible to anyone for the behavior of their tenants. We have already started the process to get this code changed in the next legislative session.This will not be easy because slumlords make a lot of money in rent from drug dealers. We are doing all that is humanly possible from our end. We are just not getting the support we need and to the degree that we need it from Code Enforcement and Law Enforcement. This has been a battle that should not be as such in a civilized world. I run a business on Walton Way, and we keep our doors locked as well.

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 11/27/10 - 01:34 pm
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ww, you are right. Sitting on

ww, you are right. Sitting on residents can work but only to a point. The main problem in Harrisburg (aside from absentee landlords) is the area is 78% rental. But all the homeowners I know and many of the renters I know keep their homes in good order. It is the ones who do a poor job that make the neighborhood as a whole seem blighted.
It's a bit harder when dealing with "druggies and drunks". Most of those people are generally beligerent when you try to deal with them and the cops are of very little help, if at all.
I've called police before and have been told by deputies on more than one occasion, and I quote "I know him, he's harmless". And that's supposed to make me feel safer? I'm not accusing anyone at the RCSO of corruption but I have a term for what I think their attitude toward Harrisburg is, criminally apathetic. And the sheriff's "I'm not a social worker" ambivalence doesn't help either.
But again your point is well taken, the residents should continue to do all they can until we actually get real code enforcement and pro-active law enforcements help.

JENNPAT
241
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JENNPAT 11/27/10 - 02:17 pm
0
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It's really bad when a church

It's really bad when a church has to hire a deputy to protect the people of the church What is going on seems to me like that sub.station was built for nothing.there is always something going on in harrisburg

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 11/27/10 - 03:02 pm
0
0
JENN, not trying to beat a

JENN, not trying to beat a dead horse on this one but you are partly correct. The sub-station WAS built for something.I was privy to some of the "insider" talk when this was proposed. When it was decided that the building would be used for this sub-station, neighborhood leaders were asked by DDA director Margaret Woodard not to say anything to the media until the ribbon cutting. At which time she and our wonderful Mayor, proceeded to take credit for something that they knew would never amount to a hill of beans. So you see it DID serve a purpose:
A huge photo-op for the Mayor and. Ms Woodard(who hasn't been back to the best of my knowledge)
Pardon me if I seem cynical but when you've been burned as many times by politicos as we have in Harrisburg, the old saying holds, when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

Suzy Q
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Suzy Q 11/28/10 - 10:28 am
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Maybe someone should tell the

Maybe someone should tell the fine folks of Harrisburg that deputies are here to assist ALL of Richmond County. And to get over themselves while they're at it.

If they require 24/7 police presence in front of their house they are free to hire a deputy to work special duty and be at their beck and call.

mable8
2
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mable8 11/29/10 - 01:17 pm
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There is no satisfying

There is no satisfying communities like Harrisburg. They shout for whatever it is they want, then scream the plan is ineffective when they get it. The substation has been there since July, which is only a 5 month period. It takes a longer amount of time to determine the effectiveness of plans such as these. The crime rate has been growing steadily for years; expecting a significant drop over night is ludicrous. Furthermore, one wonders just how much the residents of Harrisburg is cooperating with the police in order to reduce the criminal activity among them--probably little to none. Don't expect things to happen just because the police have a visible position in your neighborhood; the police need the help of the residents in order to produce a viable plan that will show positive results. And even this takes time.

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