More than 200 citizens, fed up with the rise in crime, met last Thursday night at Border Springs Baptist Church on Hwy 12, just a few miles west of the Alabama state line. The meeting was organized by Columbus CPD Lt. Wayne McLemore and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Mike Arledge was there, as well as District Attorney Forrest Allgood, to answer questions. Also available were LCSD investigator Sgt.Tony Perkins, LCSD Community Relations Officer Tammy Prescott, Major Marc Miley and Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Glasgow and Reserves Assistant Chief Willis Peek.
Border Springs Baptist Deacon John Dodson met many of the citizens at the door as they arrived. Dodson led off the meeting by telling the crowd, “The community can help law enforcement a tremendous amount in being able to catch and get prosecuted those who commit crimes. There’s a lot of eyes in here, right guys.”
Sheriff Arledge thanked the church for inviting the sheriff’s department and asked the crowd to pray for him and his officers daily. He went on to tell them that he had met with the sheriff’s of Clay and Oktibbeha counties earlier in the day, as well as FBI agents, agents from the Columbus Air Force Base and other law enforcement agencies. He explained that the current spike in crime was not just a problem locally, but was happening in other counties and municipalities.
District Attorney Forrest Allgood answered questions about the Castle Doctrine, a law allowing citizens to protect themselves in a situation where someone could cause them bodily harm. From the crowd’s perspective, that seemed to be the theme of the evening. Most of the big crowd of people on hand were ready to take up arms to help law enforcement deter crime. They made no bones about the fact that they were tired of being victims. Allgood thoroughly explained the laws and the fact that it was nearly always left up to a grand jury on whether to indict someone who might have been in a situation of protecting themselves under the law while being robbed or shooting someone who was committing a criminal act against them. Allgood gave example after example, but always refering back to the specific law that allows one to protect themselves.
“Let’s talk a minute about what self-defense is” Allgood told the crowd. “Essentially, you’ve got two prongs to self defense. First: You have to have a reasonable basis that someone intends to do you great bodily harm or commit a felony against you. Second: You have to believe that that guy is fixing to do it…right now! And if you don’t do something about it, we’re gonna get hurt. Now, when those two prongs are met, then…then it becomes a jury question, understand what I’m saying, a jury question as to whether or not you acted reasonably under those circumstances.
“Now, that’s a lot of words. So, let me give you an example that will help you, perhaps, get your head around this thing. If a guy walks throught that door over there and says to me, ‘you prosecuted my brother and I’m gonna kill you’…and he’s a quadriplegic in a wheel chair…that hardly justifies me pulling out a gun and shooting him. He has satisfied that first prong. He intends to do me great bodily harm. But, he’s not capable of doing anything so I don’t have a present, urgent threat. Now, change the facts a little bit…a guy comes through the door looking like Rambo, well…I might very well be justified in pulling out a gun and shooting first under those circumstances. But, once again, a jury decides whether or not you acted reasonably.”
One of the founders of the Columbus, Ms. Facebook Watch group, Lynn Sanders Nordquist, was also at the meeting. More of these have been promised in the future, especially after the success of this meeting.0