Columbus crime-prevention commission gets going

The crime prevention commission appointed by Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington held its first meeting today at the Government Center, introducing members and reviewing programs already under way.

The commission heard from Police Chief Ricky Boren, Muscogee Marshal Greg Countryman and newly elected Sheriff John Darr.

Wetherington told the group the city has hired 35 new police officers and plans soon to add 10 new police beats to the city's current 26 patrol zones. Formerly a state corrections commissioner, he noted that Georgia has about 60,000 people in prison and 100,000 on parole, "so crime is a big business."

The commission's chairman, attorney Frank Myers, said the commission would have to work fast to propose prevention programs for the city council to consider, because the mayor wants a report from the group by May 1 to review, in order to include proposals in Columbus' next city budget.

Voters last July approved a sales tax referendum from which city leaders pledged to devote 70 percent of the revenue to public safety.