Columbus citizens worried about crime can ease their mind Wednesday with the help of the Muscogee County Marshal's Office.
The Marshal's Office will be hosting their Refuse to Be a Victim seminar Wednesday, as part of an ongoing effort to teach Columbus citizens how to better protect themselves from criminal behavior. The seminar will be held at the Government Center in the Marshal's Office on the second floor from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
Capt. Curtis Lockette said the department began the seminars in April of 2011 to give citizens an opportunity to learn how to lessen their chance of becoming a victim.
"We've doing it for a little while and we've had a lot of good comments," he said. "If you have a concern about being a victim of crime, you need to come to this class, because there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being a victim."
The class will extensively cover techniques that can be used to reduce the chances of burglary, theft and other types of crimes. Tips will be given for homeowners, apartment renters, college students and business owners. Many of the lessons will include an emphasis on staying vigilant and alert in every day situations.
"Such as, when you're traveling abroad make sure you know what's going in that country and their law and rules," Lockette said. "If you're going to an ATM, try to go to a well lit area. Try to go where people are. Try to go shopping with someone."
Lockette said reminding people to be alert, especially in public situations, is crucial to helping citizens reduce their chance of becoming a victim of a crime.
"Everyone, eventually, lets their guard down at times when they shouldn't," Lockette said. "We're not trying to make people paranoid. We just want to make people aware that these things are out. Bad guys are always around us. We just don't see them."
Other steps citizens can take to increase personal safety include making sure garage doors are locked, installing security systems or burglar bars if they are in a high-burglary area and making an effort to get to know neighbors.
"A nosy neighbor can be your greatest ally," Lockette said. "Be a good neighbor, get to know your neighbors, so you'll watch out for one another."
Wednesday's seminar will include room for 25 people. Citizens who complete the course will receive a certificate and a booklette that contains information from the seminar. The Marshal's Office encourages participants to share that information with friends, family and neighbors.
Although the information presented at the seminar cannot guarantee that citizens will never be a victim of a crime, the seminar is an essential part of learning how to prepare for emergencies, Lockette said.
"There's no magic bullet for this stuff," Lockette said. "And we don't want people to come in and think we're saying 'This will keep you from getting burglarized.' We can't promise that. But this is just like preparing for a hurricane or a tornado. What do you do? You make a plan.
Those who wish to participate must RSVP by calling Lockette at 706 325 1001 or e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations should be made by no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Those who are interested but cannot attend Wednesday's seminar may reserve a space for a seminar to be held on Sept. 18.