Don't surrender in war on crime

City can make a difference, but it should at least put forth the effort

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It's as reliable and relentless as the calendar.

Every year at this time, we have breakfasts and such so we can tell our legislators what we want them to do for us up in Atlanta, and they can tell us with some precision how little the odds are of getting it.

That's never been truer than in the past few years, with so little money available for our wish lists.

This year, let's ask our legislators to attempt something that's actually doable: Do a little checking with law enforcement, with judges, with prosecutors and others in the know, and pass some laws that will help in the fight against crime.

This is something our Augusta city leaders should do as well. But certainly it should be No. 1 on Augusta's legislative agenda in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, Augusta Commissioner Jerry Brigham recently pooh-poohed the city's role in fighting crime, saying, "I certainly don't see any laws or anything we can do that might make crime go up or go down."

That represents a defeatist, narrow-minded approach -- to fighting crime or accomplishing anything else, for that matter. To just throw up one's hands at the start and say there's nothing that can be done -- well, there's no place for such negativity and fatalism in the ranks of leadership.

Of course more can be done, and should.

At the city level, for instance, Brigham is right that the sheriff's office is self-directing and commissioners have nothing to do with its management. But they hold the purse strings -- and anything the sheriff's office can do will necessarily involve matters of funding.

Moreover, how can Mr. Brigham sit there and say nothing will make a difference? How can you know until you try? And if some people are willing to sit like stumps and watch the robberies go by, others are not. There's no telling what groups of like-minded people can think of to do that an individual might not.

That's why we hope Brigham's colleagues on the Augusta Commission will ignore his gloomy assessment and create a new task force on crime, as requested by citizen activist Clint Bryant on Tuesday. If nothing else, it could lead to better anti-crime coordination among law enforcement agencies, courts and policy-makers, as well as citizens and businesses.

But it's also likely it would come up with concrete action items. Are there new or innovative laws that could help the courts deal with gun violence? Are there things judges can do to help law enforcement? What can the Augusta Commission do to help Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength? What can churches, schools, businesses, civic groups and others do to pitch in?

One such glimmer of hope came Thursday: Mayor Deke Copenhaver has started a grant fund to establish neighborhood watches and fund existing ones. The grants will be set up through the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area.

Still, you have to wonder if it was a miscalculation on Bryant's part to trust the Augusta Commission with his suggestion. The group couldn't even agree Tuesday to form the task force, sending it to a committee for discussion.

Let's hope the move is a sincere attempt to do it right; Bryant has been asked to come to the committee with more details. But the city's handling of another citizen's request for help last year -- Lori Davis' proposal for a chronic nuisance ordinance to deal with long-term neighborhood problems -- isn't terribly encouraging. That effort largely fizzled out after much consternation that only government can create.

Commissioners and Mayor Deke Copenhaver will now have to prove themselves worthy of Bryant's vision.

If they needed motivation -- other than the bloody 38 homicides from 2010 -- consider the case of the Wife Saver restaurant that closed recently on Highland Avenue after a November shooting there that injured an employee and reduced business traffic.

Crime is corrosive.

And yes, there's always more we can do.

Comments (67) Add comment
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Austin Rhodes
2907
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/07/11 - 02:41 am
0
0
Just about the only thing

Just about the only thing city government can do to fight crime is give law enforcement the tools to do their jobs. Cameras need to be in ALL high traffic areas...especially downtown. And we need to keep the blankety-blank bad guys once they have been arrested. MORE jail time...not less.

What does Augusta do to encourage its own citizens to be better watchdogs and more vigilant?

Jerry Brigham's honest assessment sounds pessimistic, but he is telling it like it is. We are expecting government to show up and somehow fix people who were broken by their own parents, or lack thereof...good luck with that.

City government is not a church, or a hospital...and it sure as heck ain't "mama and daddy"...

usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 01/07/11 - 03:01 am
0
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ACES, you lead off with "what

ACES, you lead off with "what can Atlanta do for us?" then offer this one suggestion that is half baked.

"Are there new or innovative laws that could help the courts deal with gun violence?"

You are all over, as you should be, the Federal govt enforcing immigration and border security laws. Time and again, I see you talking about enforcing laws on the "books". If you think there are "new or innovative laws", don't you think you should suggest 1 or 2?

I've brought this up before. $5 million for a public transit system. Make a tough decision. Transit for a few paid by many or $5 million to make the county safer for all?

ACES, like the commission, you're throwing the ball down the court. "Hey, Atlanta, what are you going to do for us?"

ACES, get out of the suggestion business. You didn't have any here. Commission, make a tough choice. Need public safety money? There's $5 million setting over there. Take some or all of it. Who's the bigger beneficiary?

dani
12
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dani 01/07/11 - 03:38 am
0
0
When did we have a need to

When did we have a need to fund a neighborhood watch. If a neighborhood doesn't care enough to establish one with volunteers then it is probably a wasted effort anyhow.

Riverman1
86890
Points
Riverman1 01/07/11 - 08:18 am
0
0
The editorial represents the

The editorial represents the feelings of many of us as the crime swirls around all of us like Hurricane Hugo knocking over everything bad and good equally. Downplaying the crime is a defeatist attitude that does not help the problem. Deke has refused to comment until NOW. He has tried to block release of the 911 recordings. He has hid from the problem.

The Sheriff downplays it by having Scott Peebles basically say they only kill each other. The role of the Sheriff has to be to build alliances with the people. His department will never be effective until this is accomplished.

Austin falls in with them and does a show breaking the murder victims down on racial lines and points out how few are white and have clean records. Jerry Brigham summarizes all their attitudes with one line when he says he doesn't see anything the commission can do to make crime go up or down.

The law abiding public, Lori Davis, Clint Bryant and many who comment here join with the Chronicle in demanding we try new methods of policing and new ordinances while not writing off a segment of the population that is, in fact, the majority in Richmond Cty. We are all going to be blown away, and maybe not just figuratively, if crime is not brought under control.

tuffenuf4u
0
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tuffenuf4u 01/07/11 - 09:20 am
0
0
We are going to have to

We are going to have to return to the days of my great great grandfather. In those days men wore their protection on their sides, in the form of gunbelts and holsters. There was no question about who would protect their self. If people would obtain a weapons permit and either carry openly or concealed, and get trained on how to effectively use that weapon, the bad guys would soon start getting the message. Thanks to bleeding heart liberals, we can no longer count on the court systems to protect us from those who really mean to do harm to us. I saw a news report last night where a person received a five year prison sentence for a cruelty to animals charge, if they had done the same thing to a person, they would have gotten a slap on the wrist. That is what is wrong with society today. We can not ask government to fix what they have messed up, that would be like to ask a thief to give you back your money after he has robbed you. The solution is up to us.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/07/11 - 09:48 am
0
0
The only way to deter crime

The only way to deter crime is to make the punishment SO SEVERE that if they ever do get out then they won't want to do it again.

But, the pansies insist that they can be rehabilitated. OK, so maybe 1 in 1 million can be rehabilitated. I don't like those odds. That is dangerous for you and I.

I say cut other programs, build more prisons without any frills -- no TV, no internet, no visits, no gyms. Just a prison library of used, donated books and a little outdoor time 2 or 3 guys at a time.

Severely stiffen the penalties for each crime and hasten the death penalty. If you are found guilty after your first appeal, you should be dead within 30 days. That will free up space for the next scumbag. Public hangings in the general vicinity of the crime the committed would also help deter crime.

Oh, and while were at it, tighten up the border and kick all the illegals out of prison (and out of our country) & back to their motherland. Let them deal with them.

Think about it this way. A lax criminal justice system ensures that court lawyers, parole boards, court employees, judges, etc ALWAYS have a job to do. If most of our criminals were locked up for a very long time, their job security would go bye-bye. We wouldn't need them as much anymore. And the USA would be a safer place for it's citizens. The scumbags make money by continuing to let these folks out. Shameful.

Lori Davis
958
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Lori Davis 01/07/11 - 10:37 am
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I will continue to say what

I will continue to say what I have always said. As long as law enforcement, which is one piece of the solution, continues to ignore picking up prostitutes, drinking on the streets, children riding bikes without helmets, open drug dealing, etc., Our children will continue to grow up thinking that all of this is normal. As long as an officer tries to make me believe that the firing of a weapon was," Just a cap gun," I will consider not calling next time. I live in a high crime neighborhood and I certainly know the sound of a gun. One area that I believe we can do better in with a change of philosophy is the way that officers deal with those of us who are trying to help. I deal with calls from citizens on a daily basis and the stories that are told to them by our officers are disgraceful. Most will give up. I will not.

Riverman1
86890
Points
Riverman1 01/07/11 - 10:38 am
0
0
As much as I hate to agree

As much as I hate to agree with Retired Army about anything and disagree with Chillen about anything these two posts have me that way. Decriminalizing drugs would dramatically decrease crime and actually decrease drug use. Plus it would save BILLIONS.

Chillen, as far as more jail time, much as I want to keep the nondrug related criminals in prison, we are running out of space. We have the largest prison population in the WORLD and can't afford more jails and prisons.

We need police officers and methods that can decrease crime by being among the people. When officer Joe needs to slap a thug beside the head, we need the people to understand Thug needs it and support the officer. How does that happen? By building bridges between law enforcement and the areas where the crime occurs.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/07/11 - 11:02 am
0
0
I also believe that the war

I also believe that the war on drugs is senseless. Legalize them, sell them in stores & tax them. Open up the prisons for the real criminals. Robbers, rapists & murderers. Those are the one's I'm talking about getting tough with.

But, the hard core Social Republicans will never agree. Only us Fiscal Republicans.

Retired Army, I also think we should tax the "poo-poo" out of drugs but if we do, that will just lead to the continued black market & therefore crime. Tax it as a regular item would be taxed. Just like buying cold medicine.

Lori Davis
958
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Lori Davis 01/07/11 - 10:58 am
0
0
I never thought I would agree

I never thought I would agree with the legalization of drugs, but after living 8 years in Harrisburg, is sure makes me consider it. Everything I see going on here is definitely fueled by the drug trade and is ruining the quality of life for those of us who are productive and want to live in peace. Until the day of legalization arrives, and I don't believe I will see it in my lifetime, we have to do other things. As Riverman says, we need to get our officers into our neighborhoods and working with the citizens on a daily basis, not telling them that a gunshot was a cap gun.

libertarianvoter
0
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libertarianvoter 01/07/11 - 11:03 am
0
0
I totally agree with Retired

I totally agree with Retired Army. Other countries have legalized just marijuana and saw a drastic reduction in crimes. Also, when they go to buy marijuana, they no longer have to go to a shady drug dealer who will entice them to buy crack.

The hardcore social Republicans say that it can't work in America, but they forget that it did when we repealed prohibition.

realitycheck09
307
Points
realitycheck09 01/07/11 - 11:02 am
0
0
One in 13 Georgians are

One in 13 Georgians are either in jail, prison, or on probation or parole - the highest percentage in the country.

It's funny to me how people that generally do not believe in government solutions believe (those of us who are pro-2nd amemendment, pro-lower taxes, and pro-lower business regulations - myself included) that MORE gov't is the answer to the crime problem.

Just like everything else, less government is the answer. Less restrictive drug laws are the answer for starters.

And to those of you who decry a "liberal" criminal justice system, you need to remember that the "liberal" search and seizure laws we have in this country protect YOU from government intrusion. Without those "scumbag" defense attorneys protecting guilty people, innocent people would be less free.

Finally, while crime is awful, everyone needs to remember that the government big enough to give you all you want is powerful enough to take everything you have away. All of the really big tragedies in this world came about in the name of government (or religion): the Holocaust, the Crusades, Pearl Harbor, the Inquisition, etc. Government will always be able to wreak more havoc than the isolated street criminal. That is why bigger government is almost never the answer.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/07/11 - 11:07 am
0
0
Once someone is convicted in

Once someone is convicted in a court of law by their peers, that is when we drop the hammer on them. My solution is not about bigger government, it is about making the penalty for convicted crime so severe that it is a deterrent.

countyman
20585
Points
countyman 01/07/11 - 11:46 am
0
0
Why won't the chronicle print

Why won't the chronicle print a article and tell the public about the crimes who decreased in 2010??

Armed robberies were down 10% in 2010...

Rapes were down 4% in 2010...

There were other types of crimes that decreased last year also...

Please don't ever tell me there is no bias...... I guess the chronicle, wrdw, and wagt get better ratings when they make the public believe it's a crime wave going on..

countyman
20585
Points
countyman 01/07/11 - 12:52 pm
0
0
Sheriff Strength is not

Sheriff Strength is not trying to downplay anything.. Scott Peebles is his own man with his own opinions. Him saying how the media has been exaggerating lately is true...

Look at the amounts of articles and tv coverage concerning the increase in homicides last year.. There's also been numerous other articles and editorials similar to this one about crime..

Lieutenant Scott Peebles is 100% correct in his assessment. The local media doesn't have the same amount of articles and tv coverage focusing on the crimes that decreased last year... There is no mention anywhere how Augusta had zero homicides in the month of December...

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 01/07/11 - 11:46 am
0
0
If any of you are waiting on

If any of you are waiting on the Commission, the Mayor or in particular, the RCSO to do anything even remotely pro-active about crime, you're delusional. The apathy from all these institutions is palpable. Oh they'll talk alot but when it comes to actually implementing anything of any substance they'll form another committee or bark about not having enough money. My cynical view is they all are perfectly happy to have "high crime" areas. At least then they know where the crime is. As long as it's not their neighborhood they could care less.

countyman
20585
Points
countyman 01/07/11 - 12:14 pm
0
0
CorproralGripweed... I don't

CorproralGripweed... I don't know how the police handle the raggedy side Harrisburg so I won't comment on the particular neighborhood.

But you don't think the sheriff's Augusta Ink operation was proactive? The criminals had no idea the man at the tattoo parlor was working undercover. Several guns and criminals were taken off Augusta's streets...

follower
59
Points
follower 01/07/11 - 12:46 pm
0
0
You may want to take a trip

You may want to take a trip to Amsterdam or Germany where people are cooking and shooting up on the street. While beautiful areas each, I didn't feel safe in the least. The reason the crime is less is because everything is legal. If you truly want a decadent city, go ahead and legalize everything.

And by the way, what is the purpose of doing drugs anyway? To get high only to be let down? Then do it again? And again? What is the future in that? Are you in any shape to perform your job? Take care of children? Be the wife and husband you are supposed to be?

I understand the frustration to "give up" on this issue. But is it the right thing to do? Any mind altering drug for the purpose of recreation is a waste of time. And whether from a spiritual or secular aspect, we all have a finite number of days on this earth. Why waste any of it in a daze? It's what happens when we don't consider "time" as a divine gift.

Labatt
0
Points
Labatt 01/07/11 - 02:05 pm
0
0
Follower, I can buy any drug

Follower, I can buy any drug I want anytime I want. I CHOOSE not to.
Not everyone thinks life is a "divine" gift.

Lori Davis
958
Points
Lori Davis 01/07/11 - 01:36 pm
0
0
Augusta Ink was 2005. We are

Augusta Ink was 2005. We are now 2011. Can't continue to rest on one's laurels.

usafveteran
32
Points
usafveteran 01/07/11 - 02:06 pm
0
0
I went downtown for a concert

I went downtown for a concert before Christmas and my vehicle was vandalized and my mother's purse was stolen. Two other vehicles in the same parking lot were vandalized. The city leaders need to work on fighting crime or Augusta is sunk!

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 01/07/11 - 02:14 pm
0
0
In 2010 we founded Augusta

In 2010 we founded Augusta Crime Stoppers. Anyone who wants to be a charter member has 57 days to let us know. There is no charge, no kidding. Bringing the oldest, largest and most successful Crime fighting organization in the world here to Augusta will make a difference if we all just pass the word. The criminals will realize that Augusta is no longer easy pickings and we will pump millions in rewards into the hands of everyday citizens like you. Support Augusta Crime Stoppers. Help U.S. take a Bite out of crime and you may even make some money too. Told Butch Jackson about this and his eyes lit up and he said something like. Eureka I'm living in a gold mine. Ha ahaha I’ve spent most of my life flipping bad into good. After over 25 yrs in my line of work I’m now the only man in America with an A with the BBB in what I do. Join us in cleaning up Augusta. The life you save may be your own.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/11 - 02:24 pm
0
0
What Lori Davis was alluding

What Lori Davis was alluding to in her first post was a concept known as"The Broken Windows Theory." This is not a new idea. It was first introduced by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson back in 1982. Bit as many of us here know, sometimes it takes about 30 years for ideas to trickle down to Augusta. Essentially what the theory says is that when petty crimes like graffitti, public drunkenness, loitering, prostitutition and blight like buildings with chronically "broken windows" are tolerated in particular areas, that those areas become magnets for more and even greater crimes. The Broken Windows Theory has been utlised by police chiefs, mayors, and other public officials across the country within the last 30 years to change the strategy with which crime is addressed. Mayor Rudolph Giulini made this theory the central pillar of his efforts to clean up crime and blight in New York with great success. The effects once this strategy once implemented were sudden and dramatic: There were significant decreases in crime across the board, from petty graffitti crime to drug dealing and murder.
We do know that a lot is tolerated in certain parts of Augusta, that would not be tolerated in other parts of the city. Asa Lori said, you can go into certain neighborhoods and witness public drunkenness, public urination, prostitution (all in Broad Daylight) coupled with a cancerous blight that acts as a magnet for this type of behavior and offers a cue to other criminals that this is the place to set up shop, because crime is tolerated here. To answer Austin's and Brigham's dissention: No, government cannot do everything. Government cannot stop all crime. But Augusta's government can change its strategy.. and that does not always mean more money and more police, but rather HOW you use them. It also involves the government acting as a facilitator with the citizens, neighborhood watches, and community organizations, to develop a multi-layered structure for combatting crime in these plagued areas. But often it starts with the seemingly little things, because like a superficial wound, allowed to fester untreated, it can develop into gangrene. There are decades of empirical research on this idea...Take a trip to Times Square in NYC..if you had visited there in the 1980s you would realize what a dramatic effect this theory can have to turn things around. It's certainly a lot better than doing what Jerry Brigham is suggesting and just throwing your hands up in the air and saying nothing can be done.
Here is a link to the original "Broken Windows Theory" as published in 1982. I would encourage as many people as possibly to read this document, especially people with the mindset of Jerry Brigham.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/4465/

Lori Davis
958
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Lori Davis 01/07/11 - 02:47 pm
0
0
Well put Emerydan.

Well put Emerydan.

follower
59
Points
follower 01/07/11 - 02:49 pm
0
0
Follower, I can buy any drug

Follower, I can buy any drug I want anytime I want. I CHOOSE not to.
Not everyone thinks life is a "divine" gift.

Labatt, sure you can. You have the choice to do as you please. However, there are consequences to actions as I'm sure you know.

As for time being a "divine gift", even if we remove the word "divine", is not life a gift? Do you not treasure your time on earth? If not, why? As I stated, our time is limited and fleeting, and we don't have the opportunity to redeem it.

I consider it a gift as we are not promised tommorrow.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/07/11 - 04:11 pm
0
0
Excellent posts Lori and

Excellent posts Lori and Emerydan and those that are in agreement with theirs. I realize I am preaching to the choir mostly here, but I would also like to see the MARKET for illegal drugs to dry up. Why, oh why, do people support drug-trafficking by buying illegal drugs??? It is NOT a victimless crime to buy, use, and abuse, as well as traffic, illegal drugs. The ripple effect of this negative behavior goes on and on, and it causes deep currents of misery and despair in the lives of family and friends of those directly involved.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/07/11 - 04:12 pm
0
0
There is something insidious

There is something insidious with what Mr Brigham is saying: That, well as long as crime is mainly affecting a certain spectrum of the population and certain parts of town, what's the big deal really? That's the mindset that needs to be changed.. because not everyone who lives in these affected areas are criminals nor do they deserve to be surrounded by criminal activity and cancerous blight. Many of these citizens do not have the means or resources to simply "move to a better neighborhood." I am sure that if people like Jerry Brigham spent a month living in Harrisburg, his attitude would change.

Labatt
0
Points
Labatt 01/07/11 - 04:38 pm
0
0
"It is NOT a victimless crime

"It is NOT a victimless crime to buy, use, and abuse, as well as traffic, illegal drugs. The ripple effect of this negative behavior goes on and on, and it causes deep currents of misery and despair in the lives of family and friends of those directly involved."

Same can be said with regards to alcohol and tobacco.

User420
2
Points
User420 01/07/11 - 05:10 pm
0
0
Do you think people really

Do you think people really deserve jail-time for possessing a plant? If you do please go have your head examined.

Riverman1
86890
Points
Riverman1 01/07/11 - 05:10 pm
0
0
Austin is taking up for his

Austin is taking up for his friend, Jerry Brigham, on the air and that's admirable. Mr. Brigham is an honest and conscientious person and Commissioner. But the Chronicle and many of us are using his words and attitude to show what's wrong with our crime control in Augusta.

We seem to be divided into two camps. Those who say the crime problem is bad, but we can't do anything about it, plus it's mainly black lawbreakers involved in it all and decent whites don't have to worry.

The other camp are the realists who understand most of the city, especially the downtown area is predominantly black. We also understand crime doesn't stay in certain neighborhoods. It moves by osmosis where opportunity exists.

Sheriff Strength is a decent enough person too. He tries and has some qualities I admire. When Tim Shelnut told FBI investigators that he had $10,000 slipped to Strength's campaign in violation of campaign ethics rules, Strength later gave $10,000 to charity.

No one is questioning the integrity of Brigham, Strength and the others. We are simply saying we have to try to lessen crime. We need a police force that goes among the citizens black and white and realizes it has to build its presence and goodwill with everyone. When we hear things like "there's nothing we can do" or "they only kill each other" we know they are not being honest and totally missing the point.

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