COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After looking at the rate of murders committed in Columbus over the past few years, some religious leaders across the city met to announce their plans to help reduce crime.
"This is a time where we need to stand together even more, especially with the heartaches that our communities are experiencing," said Rev. Christopher McCall, assistant pastor at Greater Beulah Baptist Church.
The heartache McCall alluded to are the 42 homicide victims in 2017, 27 of whom were under 30 years old. McCall and other leaders are banding together and proposing several new tactics to curb the violence.
Zeph Baker, candidate for mayor of Columbus, spoke on behalf of the group gathered inside Columbus City Council chambers at the City Services Center Wednesday afternoon.
Baker laid out a list of several key points ministers want city leaders to pursue, which includes pushing for community policing, building more trust between officers and neighbors, and filling vacant openings in order to have more officers on the street.
"Because when we leave our homes to go to work, and worship and enjoy ourselves," Baker said. "We want to return to our homes in the same condition in which we left it."
"It has to be a more aggressive effort, to provide policing everywhere, and not just in certain places," said Rev. Thomas Mills Jr., from the Spirit, Truth and Liberty Ministry.
In the same vein, Baker and the other pastors said they want the city to revise local option sales taxes, to then invest those revenues to increase officer salaries and crime prevention programs they believe need more support.
"That's why we are still advocating it now," said Mildred Andrews. "It was put out there, but we're not getting the proper funding that I think we need."
In addition to funding these programs, the group of ministers also welcomes the installation of technology to monitor high crime activity areas.
Zeph Baker is running for mayor of Columbus against several other candidates, including Skip Henderson, Charles Roberts, Danny Arencibia, Norma Harris and Winfred Shipman.