Colin Martin's campaign speech on public safety, March 6, 2014 - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Colin Martin's campaign speech on public safety, March 6, 2014

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

In press conference on Thursday, March 6, Mayoral candidate Colin Martin introduced his four-point plan to address crime and public safety in Columbus. The following is the transcript of his speech:

For the last two months, I have been talking with voters about their issues and concerns. Without question, the number one issue is crime. Everyone I spoke with wants a mayor who cares about the personal impact of crime and makes a personal commitment to reduce crime.

In my view, crime is not about statistics or five-year averages. Crime isn't just a number. Crime has a face.

It's the face of a brother, who was senselessly murdered in East Wynnton as he drove home from the store. It's the face of a wife and mother in Midtown whose home has been broken into three times, including once while she and her family were asleep in the house. On a chart, these are just numbers. But, people have to live with the consequences.

On the other side of this story are the people who choose to serve and protect our community. I rode with a Columbus Police Officer on a Saturday night two weeks ago and he showed me the North Highland and East Highland areas. I also worked along side a deputy marshal who drove me through substandard housing off St. Mary's Road. The Chaplain at the Muscogee County Jail gave me a tour of the facility, where he strives every day to have a positive impact on the inmates as they transition through the jail. Columbus is blessed with hundreds of public servants like these three.

So, the central question of this election is simple: Do you feel safer now than you did four years ago? The answer I hear is no, plain and simple.

Yet, the answer should be yes. In 2008, voters passed a permanent sales tax on the promise that we would be the safest city in America. However, the consistent feedback I hear from voters is that they do not feel safe.

I believe that public safety is about your personal safety. So today, I am introducing a four-point plan to address crime and the people who are victimized by it, the people who commit it, and the people who solve it.

The four points of this plan are:

One, Implement Community Policing – We have excellent law enforcement officers and citizens want to see them interacting in the neighborhoods.

Two, Make the first offense the last offense – Law enforcement officers tell me that, if we can positively redirect a first-time offender, the likelihood of re-offense decreases.

Three, Keep law enforcement officers past five years – The Columbus Police Department loses officers who have between two-to-five years of experience to communities that benefit from the training we pay for. We need to find out why and fix it.

Four, Re-build the relationship with the public safety leadership team – The Sheriff, the Marshal, the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, and the Coroner play vital roles in protecting and serving our citizens. As Mayor and Director of Public Safety, I will build a positive and productive relationship with these leaders using leadership skills I learned in the US Army.

The most important duty of the Mayor of Columbus is being the Public Safety Director. When I am Mayor, I will ride along with police officers in every beat and on every shift over the four-year term. I will ride along with our Columbus Fire & EMS team, as well. With the consent of the Sheriff and the Marshal, I will ride along with their deputies so that I better understand their role in protecting and serving our citizens. I will go to the jail so that I can see first hand what the corrections officers there face each day. Doing these things cost nothing but I will gain invaluable insights.

I'm sure the response to this plan will be that "we are already doing that" or "we tried that already." Well, if the current plan was working, crime would be down and public safety employee morale would be up. Neither is true. 

As Mayor of Columbus, the first question I will ask myself every morning will be, "What can I do today to move Columbus towards being the safest city in America?" That was the promise of the 2008 Local Option Sales Tax. That is what the people of this city are paying for and that is what they deserve.

Thank you.

Read Mayor Tomlinson's comments on Martin's speech here.

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