COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is correct when she said in her State of the City address that crime and poverty are "inextricably linked."
She noted that the number of homicides in Columbus last year, 22 by her count, is lower than in cities of similar sizes around our region.
But the poverty rate of 19 percent is higher here than the national average of 15 percent, and the mayor is speaking the truth when she says real crime reduction won't happen as long as poverty inspires some to walk down a criminal path.
Her challenge to the private sector to work with local agencies is logical and necessary.
Just putting more cops on the street, which the mayor and taxpayers have done, is not enough as the mayor herself acknowledges.
Before such crimes like seemingly random shootings and persistent burglaries can be solved, we need to look behind the statistics and start to address the real root causes of poverty, such as family breakdowns that lead to poor choices and other dead ends.
Our healthy and ever-growing business climate can provide chances for a way out of poverty, but first we have to make the right life choices that open that door: stay in school, don't get pregnant as a teenager, and don't get in to legal trouble.
No one is saying it's easy, but the mayor and city leaders are working on it, and so should the rest of us.
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