Columbus' Crime Rate Rises, Mayor Reacts

By Chauncy Glover - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)-  Saturday night, a gunman shot 32 year-old John O'Neil in the back at the Victory Crossing Apartments, and he became Columbus' 29th murder victim.

Ronald Coleman died overnight, the result of a shooting on Lansing Avenue.

Police say the incident was drug related. Coleman became murder victim number 30 -- the 10th one in December.

"Folks are concerned about the crime in Columbus, Georgia. I am too, as their Mayor. I hope this problem slows down and I hope this rate doesn't continue," said Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington.

Mayor Wetherington says the city needs more police visibility, and that's why he proposed the local option sales tax to put 100 more officers on the streets.

"We've hired 30 officers out of the 100 and I'm hoping in the year 2009. We'll be able to complete this 100 the council has approved," he added.

But those officers won't hit the streets until the end of 2009, so with people saying they don't feel safe, we asked the Mayor what are local law enforcement doing now? And is there a plan?

"I've talked with Chief Boren about this a number of times. I talk with him after each murder. He's concerned also. We just have a shortage of personnel," added Wetherington.