Restore community policing

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Recently, Paine College played host to a meeting dedicated to better understanding how local neighborhoods can become safer places to live. Gathered there were representatives of several neighborhood associations, several county officials, Commissioner Matt Aitken and Capt. Scott Peebles of the sheriff’s department.

The meeting covered a number of topics, but the subject of safety and crime was the topic which elicited the most interest. The comments and suggestions presented covered a wide scope, but a common thread became quickly apparent. Almost without exception each contributor was, perhaps without knowing it, describing a philosophy referred to as community policing.

Community policing is hardly new. It is what most seniors recall as the dominant policing philosophy from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, particularly in urban areas. It was characterized by officers who were assigned to an area for extended periods of time.

The officer knew the people on his beat, and the people who lived and worked there knew him. He knew whom to trust, and the people trusted him. The flow of intelligence and citizens’ sense of security was significant. Why did this effective system change?

There are hundreds of books on the changes in policing in the past 40 to 50 years, and the reasons for this change. One reason is the evolution of urban to suburban living. Another of the most important reasons is simple: money. Traditional community policing is expensive and most communities have not been able to afford it.

Over time, police leaders evolved methods and practices that made the best use of money available to cover assigned territory. Officers on foot or a horse and the presence of two officers in one patrol car disappeared.

The U.S. Department of Justice has in the past several years recognized again the value of community policing as populations in urban areas return. They strongly support the re-adoption of this successful philosophy.

Augusta will, next fall, elect a sheriff and several commissioners. If citizens want to do something about crime, they are going to have to do two things: They are going to have to elect a sheriff who will implement community policing; and they are going to have to elect commissioners who have the courage to fund it.

Phillip A. Williams

Augusta

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faithson
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faithson 10/23/11 - 11:18 pm
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Wow ! what a great idea...

Wow ! what a great idea...

seenitB4
98428
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seenitB4 10/24/11 - 06:14 am
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Augusta will, next fall,

Augusta will, next fall, elect a sheriff and several commissioners. If citizens want to do something about crime, they are going to have to do two things: They are going to have to elect a sheriff who will implement community policing; and they are going to have to elect commissioners who have the courage to fund it.

AMEN TO THAT!!!

broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 10/24/11 - 07:39 am
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yes.
Unpublished

yes.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 10/24/11 - 08:32 am
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Politicians need to look at

Politicians need to look at the big picture when deciding to cut money in key areas that deal with public safety and well being. The money they believe they are saving is far out paced by revenue lost when businesses close, people with higher income flee and property values plunge. Not to mention the devastation on the community due to loss of lives, and extensive property loss. When I first moved into my neighborhood, we had regular police patrols and the police would stop when they saw groups of kids and get out and play a few hoops with them, talk to them. Now we never see a police car and it takes a long time to get a police response even when there is a report that shots have been fired. I don't blame our officers for this, I know how thin our current police force is stretched. One need only look at the Gordon Highway corridor to see the loss of tax revenue Richmond County has taken in the past 17 years.

Lori Davis
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Lori Davis 10/24/11 - 08:49 am
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Phil's letter is right on and

Phil's letter is right on and Cassandra's comments are so true. We must properly fund our Sheriff's office and begin a new direction in law enforcement. What we have now is not working. As our civilized society continues to desentegrate, we must think about the welfare of our citizens. We are looking for someone to take the helm in our Sheriff's office willing to aggressively attack our urban issues, and ask the Commission for the money to do it. Might be a good idea to put together a solid community policing plan and present it to the Commission. I believe our citizens are begging for something different, because I hear it everyday. We will have the opportunity next year to make a choice for Sheriff. Let's choose the one with a clear cut vision and plan for restoring order in this city.

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 10/24/11 - 09:26 am
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Well said Mr. Williams. I've

Well said Mr. Williams. I've said all along until we get a Sheriff who wears a uniform instead of a tie, the situation won't change. Until we get a Sheriff who has 21st century ideas for policing instead of using the same failing methods of the past, the situation won't change. And until we get a Sheriff who says something other than, and I quote, "I'm not a social worker". the situation won't change. Lastly, until we get a Sheriff who is truly a law enforcement official and not a politician, the situation won't change.
Having said all that, that does not let the commission nor citizens off the hook. It's not all Sheriff Strength's fault things are how they are in Richmond County. We definitely need more co-operation from citizens. Especially in crime-ridden areas where citizens are afraid to speak out. And more help from those who control the purse strings at the leadership level of city government.
But ultimately it falls on "the man at the top" to provide direction towards certain policies and we aren't getting that now.
Hopefully next year Mr. Williams' call will be heeded and actual leaders in these positions will be elected.

allhans
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allhans 10/24/11 - 03:33 pm
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Maybe we could start by

Maybe we could start by getting rid of some of our trouble makers. Any ideas for that?
There is not enough residents in this town to police them all.

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