Four years later, message is the same: Make downtown safer

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I wrote the following letter to the editor July 13, 2008. I did not send it to The Augusta Chronicle because I decided to mention the idea to officials and in meetings instead. When I did so, I was largely ignored, was told that downtown is safe and was even snickered at during one meeting. So I let it go, in hopes that someone would have a better idea.

I wish I would have sent that letter.

It is four years late, but I am sending it now in hopes that it will be used before more robberies, injuries and deaths leave lives torn and our dreams of a busy vibrant downtown in shambles.

Here is what I wrote. I did not change a word. It is as I wrote it four years ago:

FOR MANY YEARS, I have been reading articles about what is needed to help our downtown area fulfill its huge potential. The projects that have been mentioned are far too many to name, but the prices range from a few million to hundreds of millions.

While some of these projects may be great ideas, I believe that we are missing the main item that will be needed to make any of the projects work. The item that I am talking about is safety. For people to want to shop, visit or live downtown, they must feel safe.

I am in no way saying that downtown is not safe now. It is as safe as most other places in the CSRA. But it is a fact that many people do not feel safe downtown. Since perception is everything, unless we do things to give them a safe feeling, we can build, but they will not come.

My suggestion is a camera system downtown. Since video technology has advanced tremendously and the prices have dropped, it is a very viable option when compared to hiring enough police officers to patrol the downtown area.

One officer could monitor the whole downtown area and send a patrol car out if trouble is spotted. The officer also will have an idea of what to expect upon arrival. And if a crime does occur, we will have a much better chance of catching the criminal.

If our area was to install a camera system, we would be able to advertise that we are one of the safest downtowns in the area. And along with the safety features, we could show our First Friday live on the Internet. That would get others excited about going downtown. Make people feel safe and secure and then and only then, will they come.

I WOULD LIKE to add one footnote to the four-year-old letter. We can also make it known that the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office will be monitoring the cameras 24 hours a day. Along with criminal activity, they will be looking for anyone who is wanted by
the sheriff’s office for any reason. That may deter criminal activity also. Criminals do not like cameras.

I have always loved the downtown area, and in my heart, I believe that if people feel safe, they will come and it will grow. Then and only then will the other projects work.

Those were my words in 2008 and those are my words now. Please get involved and let’s make this happen.

(The writer operates an Augusta auto-repair business.)

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seenitB4 07/22/12 - 08:14 am
Great letter

Yes cameras would help.....the right Sheriff will too...Freddie Sanders.

eb97 07/22/12 - 10:57 am
I agree completely. Nothing

I agree completely. Nothing will bring people back like knowing things are more safe and being monitored 24/7

specsta 07/22/12 - 11:57 am
Surveillance Society

This is the worst idea ever.

There is a little something called the Fourth Amendment. People have a right to NOT be monitored every waking and sleeping hour. It's called freedom, and the more people give in to a "1984" Orwellian society, the more our right to privacy will be eroded.

Major cities such as New York and London have tons of surveillance cameras, and crimes are still committed and crimes still go unsolved. The idea that cameras on every corner will keep someone safe is pure fantasy. It is just a feel-good panacea to make people think the government/law enforcement is working for them.

Look no further than the TSA. What a joke. But folks put up with being groped, prodded and X-rayed and scanned because it makes them feel a little safer.

We are marching toward a police state in this country. The more people cower in fear, and ask the government to "protect" them, the more we will become enslaved to a mindset that it is okay to have our right to be left alone, to have privacy, be taken away.

The final question in a surveillance society is, "who will watch the watchers?" Anyone who thinks that more surveillance of citizens, more neighbor spying upon neighbor is a good idea - might want to think back to how that turned out in Nazi Germany.

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