COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A recent crime report released this Thursday by the city shows Columbus saw an increase of more than 700 crimes during the third quarter of this year when compared to the third quarter of 2013.
When compared to the second quarter of 2014, robbery and rape had decreased but other crimes like homicide, aggravated assault, larceny, and theft by taking motor vehicle had gone up. The biggest jump was in the number of burglaries.
"I think it's a big problem," said Myisha Jones, the mother of 16 year old Christopher Jones who was shot to death on Winston Road. "When I turn on my television or look at my Facebook posts, all I see are words that read 'rest in peace' and people talking about another shooting and another robbery. It's too much."
Jones said she's always worried about her three other kids growing up in Columbus.
"I lived in Columbus for a while. This is where Christopher was born and raised," Jones said. "Then I moved to North Carolina about two years ago, but I came back. My kids missed this city and I wanted to live in a place where my kids can be just kids without having to be put into so many adult situations. But I don't feel like I'm in a good community where people can retire, raise their kids or feel safe. I want to see our mayor and other officers step up and fix this problem."
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said third quarter statistics are usually the worst. She said the city is working to make sure the total number of crimes for 2014 stays below the total number of crimes in 2009.
"We usually see higher crime rates in the third quarter of every year," Tomlinson said. "We had July and August that were very high, but it started to go down in September. We noticed that the number of crime had gone down in October as well. If we continue to work hard, we should be able to end about where we've been in 2011, 2012 and 2013."
Tomlinson said the city is also working with neighborhood association and increasing patrols throughout the city to keep the area safe.
"It's a trial and error everyday," Tomlinson said. "We look at reports for every quarter to see where we are, what's worked and see where we are falling short. We've just hired another three new officers today, so we are about 20 short of our goal of having 488 officers. "
Tomlinson also mentioned the third quarter numbers were high due to many young people being involved in burglaries.
"Students and young people are out of school during summer," Tomlinson said. "They can get themselves in lot of trouble, but we did have quite a number of kids involved in burglaries and robberies."
Major Randy Robertson, the president of local fraternal order of police agreed with the mayor saying the third quarter usually sees an increase in number of crimes every year.
"You can attribute it to the fact that a lot of it happened over summer when there are more young people out in the community," Robertson said. "Even though there may be big businesses may be growing in Georgia, it doesn't really impact the young people out here. And unfortunately, majority of these crimes are committed by those in the ages of 15 to 25 years old."
Robertson says the entire community plays a role in keeping the city safe.
"We are all responsible to fix this problem," Robertson said. "Law enforcement and elected officials are only two pieces to a very large puzzle. We need the community to come together and we need to have an open and honest conversation when it comes to crime. We all need to offer help to our young people and mentor those who need guidance. Parents need to set up good examples for kids to follow. I would encourage the people that are blaming law enforcement and elected officials to stop. That's not where the entire responsibility and the blame rest. We all need to get involved."