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Trust in police divided along racial lines, group says

 

Photo by: Jason Browne  Buy this photo.

 

Jason Browne

 

Points of action are beginning to take shape as a task force consisting of law enforcement, local politicians and concerned citizens seek to counteract violent crime. 

 

Twenty-one individuals met for the third time Monday at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library where they separated into committees to brainstorm solutions to three integral aspects of community safety: the relationship between the police and the community, youth intervention and neighborhood watch. 

 

Prior to the group breaking into committees, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem announced the task force would likely meet just one more time, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. at the library, to compile its findings and suggestions. The task force''s aims, in addition to the suggestions, are to raise enough money to bring Daniel Kellar, executive director of the American Crime Prevention Institute in Louisville, Ky., to Columbus, as well as to circulate a survey aimed at gathering statistical data on the state of crime and law enforcement across Columbus. 

 

"We need a scientific survey to get a good grip on what people are thinking," said Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John. 

 

No concrete plans were set forth regarding who will author, distribute, collect or analyze the surveys. 

 

The group discussing the relationship between the community and the police broached the topic of "what people are thinking" several times Monday. The prevalent belief was that the majority of the black community in Columbus doesn''t trust the police while the majority of the white community does. But the problem also stretches beyond race into socioeconomics. 

 

"It just depends on the community," said Tyrone Cunningham. 

 

Mississippi University for Women Police Chief Kennedy Meaders posited that the only way the whole community would ever begin to trust the police is if officers take initiative in making themselves available to the community independent of the occurrence of a crime. 

 

He suggested assigning officers specific areas of the community to patrol, rather than having all units criss-cross the entire city, and encouraging them to spend as much time as possible outside of their patrol cars interacting with community members. 

 

Five members of the Columbus Police Department attended Monday''s meeting, but none sat in on the community/police relations group. However, the neighborhood watch committee, which included all the CPD personnel, did point to tonight''s National Night Out On Crime as a unique opportunity for the department to foster unity with several Columbus communities. 

 

"People like when we''re the ones grilling the burgers," said St. John, making a point about police officers being seen as approachable. 

 

He lamented the thought that his newer officers, who haven''t had much time to establish their names and reputations in the community, wouldn''t be able to engage visitors at the six sites in Columbus which will host parties or cookouts from 7-10 p.m. in the same way his veteran officers will. And the number of veteran officers is expected to fall soon as St. John anticipates three or four retirements within the next five to six months. 

 

Expanding National Night Out, which will serve to disseminate crime prevention tips throughout various communities is just one way the Neighborhood Watch group proposed to get citizens more involved in policing their own streets. Others included raising awareness about excessive litter and neighborhood disrepair, which St. John says may send a message of tolerance toward crime. 

 

"Trash and crime go hand in hand," he said. 

 

Awareness, or the lack of awareness programs, was a central focus for the youth intervention committee. 

 

The committee discussed the opportunity free summer programs present to create a positive impression on account of the scores of children attending, but the lack of continuity throughout the school year due to the disappearance of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. 

 

"The advantage of the DARE program is that kids knew the officers," said Otis Tate. 

 

Doran Johnson, pastor of Greater Mt. Zion Church on Highway 182, pointed out that many programs such as DARE were funded through Title IV funds designated through the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act. 

 

The committee''s suggestions included increased parental involvement, education for young parents and youth classes through social programs or church to provide constant positive reinforcement.

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment doj commented at 8/4/2010 4:22:00 PM:

From the picture and names mentioned in the article, I perceive that this committee is all or mostly Afro-American, which leads one to believe that the crime epidemic is perceived to be entirely caused by the black community, and is therefore mainly a black problem. Therein lays the problem. Once again, our leaders, though honorable, tend to see community problems through racially skewed glasses. Crime in this city is a pestilence on both white and black citizens, and to be solved must be approached by a confluence of the minds of both. Race isn't the best indicator of crime.
Racism didn't cause the evil attitudes, broken families, high rates of out-of-wedlock births, child abuse and abortions that plague black communities. The cause is a lack of moral foundation, ignorance, apathy, selfishness and greed. Yet, time and time again, we hear our so-called leaders repeating the age-old lie that these black problems stem from white racism and refuse to seek out assistance from the white community, all the while offering lip service, but no action to the dilemma. While some problems do have racist origins, crime isn't one of these problems.
As citizens, we must change our attitudes towards law enforcement to start working with these agencies and not against them. We must not glorify drug use and paint violent criminals as "heroes of the 'hood" just because they are black. The same black "heroes" praised in rap songs would not hesitate to murder black seniors to get a few dollars for drugs.
This task will take time, hard work, involve risks and require a persistent grassroots movement but I believe it can be done. It starts in the home. These bad actors didn't just appear out of nowhere. They're somebody's children.

 

Article Comment td commented at 8/4/2010 6:28:00 PM:

There is still a lot of lingering resentment by a lot of people with respect to Joe Johnston being passed over for Chief a few years ago.

 

Article Comment doj commented at 8/4/2010 6:44:00 PM:

Ever heard of the Peter Principle where people rise to the height of their incompetency?

 

Article Comment justin smith iii commented at 8/4/2010 10:35:00 PM:

There's even more resentment towards Joe for his own actions. More so than his own incompetence that has rightfully kept him out of the the chief's seat!

 

Article Comment walter commented at 8/5/2010 12:25:00 PM:

Causation takes two forms: direct and indirect. We're a capitalist nation and to purchase something, you must have a job or a position to earn money. Unless, of course, you're still living off of the legacy left by your great grandparents who fared incredibly well, when the cotton was high, and the picking was easy. The pickers of the cotton didn't do so well; the owners of the cotton, as well as the owners of the pickers, did. An extension of the owners and pickers exmple is this: some pickers scraped and saved enough to purcahse land, only to have the land taken from their offsprings by lawyers and judges, who didn't look like them. But, of course, these stories have nothing to do with race. They're about some evil, ruthless people, who just happened to have been whites, who saw nothing wrong with treating blacks unjustly and gaining prominence in society, as a result.

The Task Force should not place a time-frame on its work. Stay on the job until all plausible solutions are discussed. The gravity of the problem and the necessity of finding a solution to the wholesale arrests and felonization of African American people give you a mandate to leave no stone unturned, as you seriously considers the actual faith of not only our youths, but, ourselves, as well.

Naysayes will come out of the woodworks to attack you. Be not deterred. Satan is like that. When you've come to the point of figuring out his scheme to destroy you, he tries even that much harder to discourage you.

I don't know the person from Kentucky mentioned in the article. I do know that you have experts from Jackson State, Alcorn State and Valley and some from other colleges and universities who are natives of Columbus and the Golden Triangle and the "hood" who are more than qualified to conduct any survey or research concerning the issue of crime. More importantly, they can conduct surveys and research into programs that have worked and be able to opine whether or not such programs would be feasible for Columbus. Some of them would get involved for litle to nothing. But, why should they when there's both federal and state monies available to assist the Task Force do what you're trying to do. There are some pretty smart attorneys in Columbus, judging by their bank accounts. One would hope that at this point in their lives they would devote a little pro bono representation to ones such as yourselves as you attempt to address such a gigantic problem.

 

Article Comment walter commented at 8/5/2010 1:54:00 PM:

Oh, I apologize! Judging by their bank accounts, attorneys in the city could earn some fat fees drafting proposals to get some of the billions allocated to fight crime.

Arrests and incarceration is but one program to fight crime. Why should all of the money set aside for crime prevention be going directly to para-military police units? Surely, they fill the prison and jail cells. Often-time they refill the cells with the same individuals they arrested and jailed the year before. Makes them ( drug units) look good statistically, when it comes time to seek refunding. But, what does it really do for the community, when the persons being arrested, held for a period of time without any real effort to rehabilitate are released back into the community, penniless and more unable to find employment, with each substance arrest for small quantities of watered-down dope? Quantities as small as $5.

A crime is a crime is a crime, some might say. Well, why aren't the jails being filled with adulters? Tax-evaders? Jails are filled with certain individuals because other certain individuals made a conscious decisions to emphasize the and target the "criminal" activity of one, as opposed to another.

Give the addicts a break. To keep warriors in the drug-war employed and their homes and families together, lets turn the focus on adulters for a little. Don't worry, it would only be for a little while. Persons who benefit from fight crime will continue to have jobs and profits. Place all of the adulters in cells and make pay high bails. Bondmens make money; vendors make money; and, fewer families will be broken up. Tough on crime, locking em up and throwing away the key is suppose to work and is the reason for current drug policies. Let us lock them low-down, evil adulters (it is even condemned in the Bible) into prisons. Two, not three, strikes they're out. Off to the guillotine with em.

Seriously, folks, for some of us, it is too late. Nothing you can do to alter the trajectory of our lives. We've reached 65 and will no longer be apart of the labor market. For the sake of the young people who you're slowly, but surely grinding into pulp, you need to find a better solution than what you currently have. Your future and the future of the ones you're so quick to throw down the tube are at stake.

 

Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/6/2010 9:03:00 AM:

Walter, judging by your postings I'd have to deduct that you are on a pure bean diet. You, all by yourself, might destroy the ozone layer.

If Columbus wants to get an idea of the Negro mindset, I suggest you go to ColumbusTalks.com and search for the local radio broadcasts link. There will be no questions left in your mind as to how foolish these individuals are, and their intentions.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that Walter is one of the personalities at that station.

 

Article Comment walter commented at 8/6/2010 12:37:00 PM:

With your nose stuck so near my rectum, you don't have to wonder what type of diet I'm on. You know precsiely what it is...

I'll indulge you, momentarily, rat-scoe. If I was one of the personalities on the show, it would be a show that would break all call-in and listening stats. Young brothers ansd sisters will learn who they are by discovering where they come from and the powers they possess that are more than greeat enough to free themselves from the hell they're being subjected to. They'll be able to recognize an a-hole such as yourself for what you are: a barb-thrower from a safe distance, who, being unable to present an original idea, find solace in juvenile swipes at those who can, because you would rather wallow in envy and ignorance, instead of asking us to teach your msierable ass.

I've indulged you enough. Good-bye!

 

Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 8/8/2010 8:30:00 AM:

Hey Walter, before you could teach me something you'd sorta have to know something. That leaves you in the dirt.

And that's not my nose, it's my foot.

 

Article Comment mitch commented at 8/9/2010 4:36:00 PM:

every time I hear about another task force or committee being formed I despair . while these same hand picked people are pretending to discuss these same problems again !! we who live here in this area are having to live with all of this crime. same people on all so called task forces same results (If you can call what they do results) the answer from them is always ,raise some money get some one from out of town to come study us and tell us what we should do then when this SHOW is over forget it, nothing done once again

 

Article Comment ted commented at 8/25/2010 8:35:00 PM:

Columbus has little to no law enforcement.Anyone with a scanner can see this.It seems a criminal can do any thing as long as they do not exceed the speed limit leaving the crime scene.There are traffic stops being conducted contionusly while folks are being robed,beaten,burgurlized and killed.Put the police on patrol on the streets and let the highway patrol do the traffic control.

 

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