“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Upon becoming the Interim Chief of Police, I publicly stated that the Criminal Investigations Division was the weakest link in the Police Department’s chain. Therefore I approached the Civil Service Board and the Mayor and City Council and requested three additional slots: An Assistant Chief to oversee the Criminal Investigations Division and Narcotics Unit, a Commander to head the Criminal Investigations Division, and a seasoned investigator to assist with the day-to-day operations. As a result of budgetary cuts, the investigator position was cut by the Mayor and City Council.
Contrary to a misleading news story concerning the delay in grand jury cases, the Columbus Police Department has witnessed a decrease in crime. The volume of calls for service has increased. This can be attributed to successful neighborhood watch programs implemented throughout the city by the Columbus Police Department. The citizens are the eyes and ears of the Columbus Police Department.
The one case presented to the February 2013 term of the grand jury involved the death of Mr. Alexander Brown and the aggravated assault of Mr. Undra Williams. Although the department and I have taken shots from the family of one of the victims, it was the sole case to be presented. Two people were arrested and charged in connection with the incident. This is where it becomes tricky and a matter of interpretation. While two individuals were arrested, both were contained within one case. So, does this mean that it is to be counted as one case or two? Further, one person can be arrested and charged with twenty break-ins. However, only one person goes to prison. There are four terms of grand jury within Lowndes County: February, May, August, and November. Therefore the cases not presented in February will be presented in May. While I will be the first to admit that those who would prey upon the weak are in fact a potential danger to the community, so are those who would mislead!
With this thought in mind, I am reminded of a conversation that I had with Mayor Robert Smith. The conversation consisted of the abovementioned news report. I was in the process of explaining to him why only one case was being presented to the grand jury. He cut me off and said, “Chief, neither the public nor myself wants to hear excuses, we only want solutions.” Therefore I will not give you any. I will tell you that we are doing a lot of things right, but we are not perfect by any means. Sin took place in the Garden of Eden and will continue on until someone cuts out the lights on this small planet. The Mayor and I are adamant about the safety of the citizens of Columbus. We have had numerous conversations concerning improving quality of life issues. And, in closing, I wonder if we had been able to take more guns off of the street during the gun buy-back program if we could have prevented the United States Postal worker from being shot. We perhaps will never know.
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