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Columbus police encouraging more conversations with youth amid recent violence

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Many saying it is way past time for the violence to end -- Columbus police are working to get a handle of the increasing crime but they say it will take a community wide effort to find solutions.

“If we don’t get a grip on it then who will,” asked Columbus Resident Tracey Holcomb.

With 52 homicides already this year, six involving youth, residents say the community needs to come together to help police.

“It’s crazy. The murder rate is high but I feel like they can’t do it by themselves,” said Holcomb.

The latest homicide involves 16-year-old Kaleb Morning who was shot and killed Monday on Joyner Drive. Residents in the neighborhood say it’s normally a quiet, suburban area.

As crime involving youth increases across the Fountain City, Sergeant Angela Florence with the Columbus Police Department says it’s important to have more conversations with the youth.

“My main message to parents is just to communicate with your children -- know what they’re doing, know where they are,” said Florence.

Sgt. Florence runs the D.A.R.E. program where Columbus Police officers talk with Muscogee County youth about the importance of making safe choices when it comes to drugs.

“Although we do talk about drugs, a little bit of violence, is to make safe and responsible decisions, no matter what is going on in your life,” said Florence.

Another way Sgt. Florence says residents can help police in preventing the uptick in crimes is by joining their community’s neighborhood watch group. Florence says through neighborhood watch, officers meet with coordinators to make sure they’re informed about any crimes going on in area.

But most of all, Sgt. Florence really encourages people to speak up.

“The main thing is if you see something, say something,” said Florence.

Anyone with tips about any crimes can make an anonymous call Columbus Crime Stoppers at 706-653-3188. Residents can also text VACS and their crime tip or message to 274637 (CRIMES).

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