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Crime On the Rise in Columbus and Lowndes County —– But…Officials Are Responding To The Public Outcry for Action

Ron Williams

At Tuesday nights Columbus City Council meeting, Mayor Robert Smith, Columbus Police Chief Selvain McQueen and the Columbus City Council addressed concerns about the crime situation in Columbus. Mainly because of the presence of the Columbus, Ms Facebook Watch group, recent awareness of increasing crime has been made even more noticeable. Ward 3 City Councilman Charlie Box made mention of the group and praised its involvement. McQueen recently said that home invasions and robberies typically increase this time of year, but because of the realtime awareness of crimes taking place because of the internet watch group, it appears to be much more than usual.
Whether it’s true that crime is running rampant or not, at least the city administration is taking notice. I don’t think anyone is saying they were turning a blind eye, but a lack of response of many emails and phone calls from many Facebook Watch members by Mayor Smith didn’t help the situation any.
But on a more positive note, they do deserve credit for addressing the situation. They even gave permission for McQueen and the police department to hire 5 new officers. While more personnel is not the entire answer, it certainly can’t hurt. Foot patrol officers are being stretched to the limit. The demands on the force are at an all time high because of the increased crime rate and awareness. Tuesday night, McQueen stressed the need for citizens to become more involved and assist in curtailing crime by calling 911 and the police department with anything suspicious in their neighborhoods.
(As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, a perfect example of citizens helping police just occured. Myron Sewell, 23, had been sought by Columbus police for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at the Double S Laundry on Main Street Tuesday morning. Columbus police, working on a tip from the victim and an alert citizen, raided a home near the old Airline Manufacturing building just before 11 a.m. Sewell was arrested at the location and charged with the offense. RW)
While the need to help police with solving crime and providing tips is of the utmost importance, media outlets are also competing to get the story out to you. After recent conversations with Packet Publisher Colin Krieger, we feel it’s more important to help get crime solved than try and scoop another media outlet. That’s a no-brainer. In doing so, that might involve not immediately releasing some details online until police have had a chance to begin their investigation and confirm some fundamental facts.
In dealing with the recent rash of home breakins, home invasions, burglaries and robberies, there will be a meeting Thursday, January 19th at 7 p.m. at Border Springs Baptist Church, located at 12771 Hwy 12 East in Caledonia. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting the meeting and will be available to answer citizens questions about how best to organize and coordinate Neighborhood Watch areas and assist the department in providing tips to help solve and curtail crime. Everyone is invited to the meeting and encouraged to attend. The Packet will be providing more information on upcoming public meetings involving Neighborhood Watch programs as they become available.

Sinkhole Problem Solved

Last week, we reported about the huge sinkhole located near a sewer drainage unit in front of Harold and Anne Barton’s home at 812 Lehmberg Road. Even before the Packet was published last Thursday, the hole was filled-in by the Lowndes County Road Department. After the county showed up to fill the hole, the Columbus City Public Works Department also showed up to make sure the situation was taken care of. Homeowner Harold Barton couldn’t have been more pleased. Although he praised the Packet for helping get the situation cleared up, the credit should go to Lowndes County Road Manager Ronnie Burns and City Public Works Director Mike Pratt for their prompt response.

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