Community leaders, officials talk ways to prevent crime and violence in the Chattahoochee Valley

Community leaders, officials talk ways to prevent crime and violence in the Chattahoochee Valley

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Some areas of the community are hot spots for shootings and other dangerous crimes.

In Phenix City, police report there have been four murders in the area of 4th Place and 4th Street in Seale over the last two and a half years.

In Columbus, one of the known problem areas is near Mellon Street where law enforcement can confirm gang activity. Reports show three murders within the past few years, one murder this weekend on an adjacent street, and nearly 2,000 911 calls in that neighborhood over the last four years.

“When there are hot spots that come up like that, overall in law enforcement, we tend to focus on those areas and try to make more patrols through that area and things of those nature, just to try to make a better presence," said Sgt. Jeremy Hattaway with the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office.

Sometimes, it takes more than police to prevent crime. It takes a whole community coming together to put on programs to steer young adults away from violence.

It is a big problem, and defense attorneys tell News Leader 9 more and more of their clients are juveniles... and they said if the community were to get more involved in the kids' lives... they may be able to prevent some of this violence. Not a month goes by that there is not a murder in the fountain city.

“We’re seeing too much violence on the streets,” said defense attorney Michael Eddings.

An unfortunate trend coming out this year shows many violent crimes are being committed by the young and some of the murder victims are just teens.

“There’s no excuse for those at that age, those young people, number one, to be committing violence but certainly to be in a position where they could be victims of violence," Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson said.

As Columbus grieves its losses, there is a sense of purpose for community leaders to prevent these crimes from continuing to happen. First, you have to examine the root cause of the criminal activity.

“Social economic issues, disenfranchised individuals who are facing poverty, not having the means to provide a real sense of income, or living arrangements create and cause the crime rate to go high," Dr. Walter Taylor said.

With the COVID-19 crisis, some say young adults are going stir crazy. So what can be done?

“We can be more involved. Just because a kid may be troubled doesn’t mean you have to stick away from them," defense attorney Anthony Johnson said.

“We just need to get more outlets to these kids so they have some alternatives to getting in trouble," Eddings said.

Those activities could be anything from youth sports programs, after school organizations, and even faith-based events to keep kids on the right path. Henderson agrees a community approach is needed. He said law enforcement is doing its best.

“They look for tendencies, they look for hot spots, and they put extra patrol. Everything they’re doing right now is using analytics to try to get in the heads of these individuals who are perpetrating these crimes and try to be in the area before the crime is even committed," Henderson said.

The saying ‘it takes a village’ rings true not only with raising children, but also preventing crime. The office of crime prevention receives roughly $750,000 a year to distribute to local organizations trying to take a bite out of crime by keeping kids busy through education, mentorship, and fun activities.

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