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Barbour County NAACP calls on officials to address growing crime

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 1:44 AM EDT
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EUFAULA, Ala. (WTVM) - As crime continues rising across the nation, including in Columbus and East Alabama, one organization is trying to work with a local city to provide solutions as we get closer to summer. And it’s not coming without controversy after tonight’s Eufaula city council meeting.

The organization says they have reached out to top officials like the mayor, the sheriff and the police chief to discuss a meeting to address violent crime.

However, they say they were not happy with the turnout for their first meeting, and time is running out before this problem gets worse.

“At night, it is absolutely scary throughout our community,” said Barbour County NAACP’s Vice President Carlton Worthen. “But what’s even more brazen now is that the crime has now seeped into the daytime hours.”

Gun violence is becoming a massive problem across the nation, with some fearing their safety. With summer starting soon, the NAACP chapter says something must be done.

“One of the things that we would like to see done among many is to have a task force representative from the city of Eufaula to participate with federal authorities,” said Worthen.

Other solutions they suggested include neighborhood watch programs and gun buybacks. They’ve even sat down with the mayor, sheriff and police chief, but say they were NOT pleased with the meeting’s turnout.

“When I entered into the meeting, what I noticed right away was that every single person who was not an elected official, were black,” said Worthen.

The group said they requested a more inclusive meeting but have yet to hear back.

“We have a problem when we did not have a coherent public policy to address this rampant crime that was running throughout our community,” said Worthen.

Another problem mentioned was staffing shortages among Eufaula police.

“Right now we’re budgeted for 35. We have 31. We have an officer starting tomorrow. We have another officer in line to start in a couple of weeks,” said Eufaula Police Chief Steve Watkins.

Eufaula’s mayor said he’s talked to law enforcement about having a more significant presence and met with the sheriff. Chief Watkins says he’s also working with other agencies.

“We have programs with the FBI, ATF, DEA,” said Watkins. “We’re working with other organizations, other agencies.”

Again, the organization would like the second meeting to happen within 30 days. But, no date has been set yet.

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