More than 125 Windsor Park area residents filled a fellowship hall at North Highland Assembly of God on Whittlesey Boulevard Tuesday night seeking answers on controlling crime, using surveillance cameras, reporting suspicious vehicles in the neighborhood and using deadly force.
Over the last two months, Assistant Columbus Police Chief Lem Miller said the neighborhood has experienced 24 crimes, and the entire area covering nearby neighborhoods in police beat 31 had 118 total offenses reported. Miller said auto break-ins were the top crimes occurring in the neighborhood that pushed residents to seek help from Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and police.
Before the month ends, Miller said the department hopes to have its $2.5 million records management system up and running to help police track crimes.
“We are having to tweak it along the way,” he said. “We paid a lot of money for it.”
Not including firefighters, Tomlinson, who also serves as the public safety director, said the city has 1,000 sworn officers, including 488 police officers, to keep the city safe. This number does not include firefighters.
A woman asked the mayor about the use of cameras as a resource to reduce crime. Tomlinson said Police Chief Ricky Boren doesn’t support cameras at intersections because of the increase in rear-end collisions when motorist spot the camera. But the mayor noted that residents may use cameras on their property in front of their houses.
They are not used in Columbus neighborhoods because of questions over civil rights and civil liberties. Residents may use cameras pointed toward their right of way.
“You can have your camera that does see the street in front,” the mayor said.
Jason Winters, who serves at Fort Benning, wondered what could be done about a suspicious truck in the neighborhood.
“Word to the wise is keep your stuff locked up,” he said.
Tomlinson said he should call 911 and give specific information about a rash of burglaries or crimes in the neighborhood to get police to respond to the area.
With a rash of crimes over the last two months, some residents wondered if they could shoot a person outside their home. The answer from police is “no.”
The mayor said the person must be coming into your home and an imminent threat.
Retired police officer Mark Graydon, who has been involved in at least two officer-involved shootings, said residents are fed up in the neighborhood.
“We are so angry at this,” he said. “We aren’t going to restrain ourselves every time.”
The retired officer said the key to control crime is to keep the offenders in jail.
“That is the key,” he said.