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Task force plans more police presence, better vendor control for First Friday

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More police officers will patrol Broad Street on Friday night during and after the monthly First Friday festival.

The increase in security is part of an action plan developed in response to a July 6 shooting that wounded six people after the official event concluded.

A task force that included the Greater Augusta Arts Council, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, downtown stakeholders and city leaders met for several weeks before presenting the plan to the public at a meeting Wednesday night attended by about 25 people.

Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said people should expect a larger police presence than at previous First Fridays that will aggressively enforce laws, including the midnight curfew for those 18 and younger.

“Make no mistake about it. Downtown Augusta is not a place to come and violate the law. We will address each and every activity,” Gay said.

He also urged parents not to drop off children on Broad Street and leave them unsupervised.

Gay would not disclose the number of police officers who will be downtown Friday but said they will be within sight of one another and on the streets “way into the morning hours.”

In response to a question about loitering laws, Gay said crowds of young people walking Broad Street are difficult for police to address.

“Just as you have a right to walk down the sidewalk, they have the right to walk down the sidewalk. Now, when they start becoming a problem, we can enforce the violation, whatever that might be,” he said.

Brenda Durant, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Arts Council, said the sheriff’s department, the city’s licensing and inspection department and the arts council, which holds the event from 5 to 9:30 p.m., will meet at 4:45 p.m. on Broad Street to review plans for the night.

For the first time, the arts council will track what vendors, nonprofit organizations, artists and musicians receive vendor passes, Durant said.

The city’s license and inspection department will control unsanctioned vendors that assemble up and down Broad Street past the event’s official end, she said.

Four Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative employees will be present, said Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. At 9:30 p.m., the initiative will begin cleaning trash from sidewalks and helping the arts council with closing the event; it will stay until 11:30 p.m.

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specsta
6261
Points
specsta 08/02/12 - 02:10 am
2
9
First Friday or First Flop?

Sounds like a fun time. More police, crackdowns on unlicensed vendors, crackdowns on curfew, more aggressive policing - what's not to like? Maybe the cops should wear jackboots and devise a new salute in honor of the night.

seenitB4
84090
Points
seenitB4 08/02/12 - 02:42 am
6
1
jackboots

Well...that is a good idea....boots for kicking some behinds .....everyone has a right to walk down the street..yeh...it's popping the cute little guns on Broad is what is causing the problem..

seenitB4
84090
Points
seenitB4 08/02/12 - 03:19 am
5
1
Another thought

Because of the hot Sheriffs race....I'm thinking Broad St will be veeery safe for awhile....& that's a good thing..

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 08/02/12 - 08:29 am
0
0
hey sheriff andy taylor (of
Unpublished

hey sheriff andy taylor (of andy griffith show)....ooops i mean sheriff strength what will the extra deputies be doing handing out citations to the illegal vendors while the thugs, rats, and roaches shoot, rob , and steal from the first friday goers???

harley_52
22812
Points
harley_52 08/02/12 - 09:28 am
4
1
Well Hallelujah!

Finally, we find out who is "in charge" of public safety at First Friday events.

"More police officers will patrol Broad Street on Friday night during and after the monthly First Friday festival."

"More police officers will patrol Broad Street on Friday night during and after the monthly First Friday festival."

If the Sheriff had stood up three weeks ago and made those same statements we could have avoided three weeks of nitting and nattering about how to solve the First Friday crime problem.

It just took us a while, that's all.

debbiep38
415
Points
debbiep38 08/02/12 - 11:55 am
0
0
Poor Specsta.
Unpublished

Poor Specsta.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 08/02/12 - 11:31 pm
0
1
"More police officers will patrol ... First Friday..."

More? The last time I was there, there were no patrols unless a fast drive-by and parking at the end of the street constitutes a patrol. I did see one deputy out of his vehicle, but I think he was checking to make sure the patrol car wasn't up on blocks before he tried to leave when the gangs showed up.

caitlin
4
Points
caitlin 08/12/12 - 09:46 am
0
0
I don't miss Broad Street. At

I don't miss Broad Street. At all. As a matter of fact, the farther I get from the South the less I miss it.

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