When will reducing crime be Job 1?

We talk about doing what we can, but when will we start doing it?

  • Follow Editorials

If a doctor said you had cancer, would you shrug it off because you feel fine at the moment?

Of course not.

Likewise, law-abiding Augustans can't afford to shrug off the area's violence because it doesn't touch them directly.

True enough, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says robberies, both individual and commercial, are down over last year. And while murders and assaults are up and recent headlines about them have folks talking, the fact remains that if you act prudently -- don't deal in illicit drugs or commit other crimes, don't hang around people who do, and stay off the streets and out of the nightclubs in the wee hours -- you have very little chance of being victimized.

Still, killings, no matter whom they involve, cast a pall on the entire community. It's incumbent on us to do what we can to reduce the violence.

We're not even coming close to doing what we can. Not even close.

The sheriff's office today, according to Sheriff Ronnie Strength, has 34 fewer officers on the street than it did 10 years ago.

Citizen activist Clint Bryant (see column, next page) believes that not only do we need to beef up Strength's regular force, we also need a dedicated gang unit. Bryant and others have been collaborating for several years on solutions -- and with the city at 38 homicides as of last week, here's hoping concrete action is around the corner.

Bryant's efforts may be crucial in moving the community toward a comprehensive strategy. It needs to include not just law enforcement, but the schools, churches, Chamber of Commerce, the courts, civic groups, state lawmakers, the city government and more -- and not just in Richmond County: This problem transcends artificial political lines. Indeed, the two young ladies murdered execution-style here recently were from Aiken.

It's time this community's leaders asked Sheriff Strength what he needs to fight this battle -- and actually get it to him. No more lip service, please.

Our top leaders in education, law enforcement and other area governments need to meet to hammer out a comprehensive strategy and to make sure they're on the same page and not working at cross purposes. Example: Do our various institutions agree on the best way to handle students who are too violent for traditional schools? And do judges mete out sentences that help law enforcement make our streets safer?

One thing the courts can do is throw the book at anyone with an unlicensed gun: a year in jail, at least. In talking to law enforcement, it's clear illegal guns are one of the biggest problems in the community.

"The access to guns is just unbelievable," agrees Bryant.

And what about local preachers? Are they showing sufficient courage in taking on the problems ailing our society -- from rampant illegitimacy to truancy to idleness and drugs and family breakdown? Or are they paying it all lip service?

This is a national problem, certainly -- but it's one that is felt primarily at the local level. That's where the solutions must come.

Is the effort to make it a top priority finally starting?

Are we finally going to do what we can?

Comments (19) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 12/05/10 - 01:50 am
0
0
Do yourself a favor and get a

Do yourself a favor and get a CWP if you are ready. You are the only one that can save you now.

As for the comment of unlicensed guns, we do not have a license for guns in Georgia, so I have no clue what that was in reference to.
Most homicides are unpreventable unless the victim will fight back. No legislation, city decree, or massive uptick in police spending will help you if you are toe to toe with a lowlife. Unholster, dispatch, and move on. You are your best defense. Until we start sending these people that want to rob, mail, and kill us home in a body bag we will not see any change.

It sucks. I would hate to have to take a life, no matter what circumstances. Being a victim is a much harder road. I would also hate to miss my children growing up and spending the rest of my days with my wife.

That being said, I am ready, willing, and able to follow through. I will take my stand. I will refuse to be a victim without a fight. This is my town. This is my home. The people that want to hurt the citizens of Augusta need to be reminded of that. Enough is enough.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 12/05/10 - 05:36 am
0
0
34 Less Officers than 10

34 Less Officers than 10 years ago for the RCSO.

Furloughing Deputies 14,000 hours this year and thousands of hours next year - which in reality results in even fewer deputies.

Reductions in pay over the years due to increases in expenses to the deputies health insurance, etc. not to mention pathetic benefits.

And additional $750,000.00 cut from the 2011 budget on top of all of the furlough days.

Richmond County Sheriff's Office doesn't even begin to have enough staffing to meet the minimum requirements of The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) compared to our neighbors in Columbia County who not only meed the minimums but exceed the standards for the industy.

There are many things that are needed to help solve crime which include the schools, community, etc. However, our police force can barely keep up with answering calls so you can forget any type of pro-active law enforcement approaches - but don't blame the Sheriff's Office because they are woefully underfunded, understaffed, underequipped and lack the technology needed to take greatly reduce crime in our area.

Our Sheriff's office needs MAJOR support and needs it immediately. If we want to have a good community to live in, attract new homeowners (taxpayers) vs. loosing them and attract new businesses, then WE MUST take immediate action to greatly improve our Sheriff's Office. Currently, all our commissoners are doing is making it much worse.

Contact our Mayor and Commissoners TODAY via phone, e-mail and/or mail and make it known that Public Safety should be a major priority and you want the Sheriff's Office fully funded and furlough days removed.

Commissoners Contact Info: http://www.augustaga.gov/index.aspx?nid=652

Sandpiper
0
Points
Sandpiper 12/05/10 - 05:37 am
0
0
If we lock up the entire

If we lock up the entire population and determine what everyone can and can't own, we'd all be safe, but how smart would that be?

Why not address what makes people form destructive ideas that avoid any kind of personal responsibility? Why not address what makes people feel there is no personal accountability?

Taking a reactionary course has led to our current situation, why propose more of the same? Will we expect different results?

Are guns the culprit? Don't knives and pipes and garrotes kill just as dead?

Bad choices, without government interference, lead to a very hard and very short life. Destructive tendencies are self curing if left to their own devices. Only by providing trillions in government support for this destructive lifestyle are we able to continue it.

Austin Rhodes
2903
Points
Austin Rhodes 12/05/10 - 09:42 am
0
0
Lock up violent criminals and

Lock up violent criminals and leave them there. THAT is what you do. An officer told me the other day that 90% of the killings he had seen in his career were committed by prior violent felons. That is quite a price for society to pay "in the hope" that someone will reform.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 12/05/10 - 09:53 am
0
0
‘Citizen activist Clint

‘Citizen activist Clint Bryant (see column, next page) believes that not only do we need to beef up Strength's regular force, we also need a dedicated gang unit.’
Cut the entitlement programs and the gangs will go down.

Michael Ryan
690
Points
Michael Ryan 12/05/10 - 10:02 am
0
0
Taylor -- You're right.

Taylor -- You're right. Illegal would've been a better word.

Riverman1
86837
Points
Riverman1 12/05/10 - 10:08 am
0
0
I appreciate the Chronicle's

I appreciate the Chronicle's attempt to address the crime in Augusta, but the theme reminds me of a Bugsy Siegel line: "We only kill each other."

Unfortunately, that's not true. Gangland violence, theft and crime of all kinds spill over to those not involved.

There is no doubt that the more money the police have, the better job they can do, but there is also a responsibility to change the methods the police use. They have to concentrate on the inner city area and gain the confidences of the residents. That is the inescapable key component to decreasing crime.

Someone above said, "However, our police force can barely keep up with answering calls so you can forget any type of pro-active law enforcement..." That's not accurate. There are extended periods of down times when officers are not responding to calls. That time can be used to walk among the people where the crime is happening, share a joke with them and let them know they can be trusted.

The people will behave differently when they trust the officers and come to them with problems before violence occurs. The truth is the police will behave differently, too, when they know the people.

Remember the example I keep giving of black Charleston Police Chief, Rueben Greenberg, who became nationally know with his policies that actually worked to decrease crime dramatically. While taking no nonsense from the bad guys, he went among the inner city residents everyday on roller skates. They knew him and were proud of him.

He demanded that his officers walk and ride bikes among the people to get to know them. He understood the people have to believe the police work for them.

CabisKhan
164
Points
CabisKhan 12/05/10 - 11:00 am
0
0
A splost tax for law

A splost tax for law enforcement and safety only. No provisions for low brow or high brow cultural giveaways. They can support themselves through community involvement and investment. No funding of frivolous city projects. Our current sherrifs dept. is still a model of decency and courteousness towards our citizens with little funding. But a discouraged law enforcement agency can morph into a fustrated , innefficient. and possibly corrupt organization. Maybe a little percentage for potholes in the road.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 12/05/10 - 11:48 am
0
0
Asitis, Where do we get the

Asitis, Where do we get the money. My taxes are already $566.00 per month on my house and I have already paid in 35.6% of my income on Fica and State and Federal taxes plus 7% on everything I purchase. Maybe we should cut the free rent, school lunches, almost free transportation and travel to so called "education conferences". This is not much but it is a start. We could also cut back the amount the state puts on EBT cards and limit the types of foods that can be purchased to staples only. That would free up some money. I am sure you would get an uprising from the entitlement crowd that it was unfair to do this but why should we care because they did not earn it anyway.
Someone in government has to make the hard decision to do this or the cycle will continue. On the National level I am sure that billions could be cut.

dani
12
Points
dani 12/05/10 - 01:02 pm
0
0
WW1949-Can't we transfer

WW1949-Can't we transfer funds from the legal department, and perhaps the procurement department.
I get the idea that they have more than is necessary.

AutumnLeaves
8444
Points
AutumnLeaves 12/05/10 - 02:45 pm
0
0
I can illustrate what I've

I can illustrate what I've been through this way. A friend of mine who still lives in the neighborhood that is getting a makeover right now, is enjoying the experience very much, despite the roads being shut down. Why? Because of the security measures necessary for the work, he has never felt safer. I understand completely what he is saying because I used to live within a mile of there as the crow flies. I know exactly what he is talking about from personal experience.

Lori Davis
958
Points
Lori Davis 12/05/10 - 02:47 pm
0
0
Mike, Thanks for the

Mike, Thanks for the editorial. I will always contend that once children grow up in an uncontrolled environment concerning the lack of law enforcement, then they grow up believing that what is going on around them is OK. Children learn what they live. If they see drug dealing, prostitution, drinking in public, urinating in public, gun carrying, etc. and no one stops it, it must be OK. We need Community policing and boots on the ground. We need landlords that don't enable. We need our leaders to come out and say that Richmond County will not tolerate drug dealing, crime and blight. Who is going to be the first to step forward and get this ball rolling? The first step is to admit that there is a problem. I have yet to hear our Mayor or Commissioners address the issue. We need leadership. Where are our leaders?

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 12/05/10 - 04:24 pm
0
0
America already has the most

America already has the most guns in the world and the most people imprisoned in the world. And more guns and more jails is not going to cure the problem. Neither is more police but it'll slightly help. Poverty breeds violence and poor people are trapped in unemployment or low wage jobs and unable to escape to better living. Manufacturing jobs have been sent abroad to such places as India where the hourly wage is $0.23 and China with $0.75 or South America which doesn't have hourly wage laws and people earn on average $270 per month in Argentina and $286 in Chile.

But many service sector jobs can't be exported to benefit the nation's capitalist. And minimum wage jobs in America pay less than other world places. Other places pay higher minimum wages and provide national health care, dental care and vision care to boot.

Minimum Wages

US Federal US$7.25 per hour
Canada US$9.21 per hour
United Kingdom US$9.27 per hour
France US$11.00 per hour
Switzerland US$18.07 per hour

American society exploits the poor and our nation has the highest poverty rate in the developed world. Our minimum wage needs to be raised and competitive with other developed countries. And the minimum wages needs to be coupled to the Consumer Price Index to prevent slipping behind.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 12/05/10 - 07:25 pm
0
0
I agree with Lori Davis.

I agree with Lori Davis. Nice post.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 12/05/10 - 08:10 pm
0
0
Gasp,,blaming capitalism is a

Gasp,,blaming capitalism is a cop out. The poor in America on average are still richer than most people in industrialized socialized Europe. They have A/C, they own on average two cars, 40% own their own home. Also giving more money to a Sheriff who refuses to adopt 21st century policing techniques ia a collossal waste of money.Not saying we don't need more deputies but it's kinda like the bogus "Great Society" programs which have spent trillions of other people's money and the poverty rate has actually increased. .What we need isn't a higher minimum wage or more money. What we simply need is for those whom we've entrusted our safety to, to actually act like they give a damn and get it done. Period.
One last thing, I've traveled abroad. I've seen real poverty. And it ain't here. This isn't an economic issue. It's a law enforcement (or lack therof) issue.

Brad Owens
4715
Points
Brad Owens 12/05/10 - 08:40 pm
0
0
I still cannot understand how

I still cannot understand how we can cut the Sheriff in the middle of a crime wave and leave a lot of other spending in place.

Brad

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 12/05/10 - 08:57 pm
0
0
CorporalGripweed - We're not

CorporalGripweed - We're not going to diminish the crime rate until the bottom class has a bigger piece of the pie and something to protect and defend. And I kindly don't blame the cops for playing it safe and out of the way. Society is responsible for the flood of guns on the street and few people will even remember a dead law officer. Why get yourself killed for people who's responsible for the mess?

chascush
0
Points
chascush 12/05/10 - 08:59 pm
0
0
GASP, ‘American society

GASP, ‘American society exploits the poor and our nation has the highest poverty rate in the developed world.’
That is one of dumbest statements ever. You need to travel and see real poverty. The poor in the US has it better than most in the rest of the world. I have been there and seen it. GASP, please try to know a little of what you are talking about. It would make you a little bit creditable.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 12/05/10 - 10:10 pm
0
0
chascush - I said it and I'll

chascush - I said it and I'll stand by it too.

‘American society exploits the poor and our nation has the highest poverty rate in the developed world.’

And that's easy to verify too. Just do an internet search for minimum wages in the world and gander at the following link. The OECD is comprised of the world's 30 most affluent nations.

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/47/2/41528678.pdf

OECD (2008), Growing Unequal : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries

The United States is the country with the highest inequality level and poverty rate across the OECD, Mexico and Turkey excepted. Since 2000, income inequality has increased rapidly, continuing a long-term trend that goes back to the 1970s.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 12/06/10 - 11:05 pm
0
0
When positive family values

When positive family values and character building are returned to the home, there will be a reduction in crime--and not before. All the strategies in the world are not going to work 100% as long as folks continue to reinforce the negativism we see so much of these days. Children need to learn that violence is not the answer, let alone a problem resolution. See what they are viewing in the video games they play and the movies they watch (including some of these so-called cartoons). Citizens should exercise their right to vote, and determine which is the better person for the elected position; we should not accept corruption in our elected offices. If a politician or bureaucrat is caught committing a corrupt action, the voters need to recall that individual immediately. Put a cap on the amount of money that can be spent for a campaign, regardless of the position sought; it is obscene to spend 50M+ in any campaign. Term limits for all politicians is a must; this helps in keeping the Pelosi's, Reid's, and Rangel's from making corruption a "business as usual" proposition. Use prisons as a last resort for those who are not predators; most folks can be rehabilitated, but a predator does not have the desire to be rehabilitated. Eliminate political correctness from our repertoire; being politically correct is nothing more than being an elite liar. Educating our young is not only the business of our schools, but is the business of our family life; clean up the language as well, we don't need to express ourselves with expletives in order to get our point across. Both our school system and our family values should include character building--it was done years ago, but NEA decided it wasn't 'kosher' to promote good character. Teach parenting skills and family life in our last two years of high school; make it mandatory so that students not only graduate with a decent education, but learn what family life really is. We are not talking about teaching graphic sexuality, we are talking about why some families succeed and other's do not. Give the students a choice: do they want to go to college or attend a vocational/technical school? Not every student wants college, but all need some viable skills to enter the job market. These are the things we used to do and somewhere we stopped. As a result, we have rising crime rates and barely functional family systems.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs