August 3, 2009 9:59:00 AM
Burglaries, larceny, robberies, violent crime - we read about it every day. Our media is full of the images and sounds of society ills. It is the lead story daily. It has often been said, "If it bleeds, it leads." Crime is always on the top of everyone''s concerns and is often the topic of community debate.
But what can be done about crime? Is it a society problem? Is it a police/government problem? Is it a combination of both? People have asked these questions for as long as society has existed. The truth is: It is a complex problem with many complex answers. It is a problem that has as many questions as it does solutions.
After 25 years in law enforcement, I know that the only way to address the crime problem is with a holistic approach. We must be a society that understands that crime does not exist in a vacuum where only good and bad people are present. Crime is everyone''s concern and it occurs everywhere.
We must be a society in which everyone realizes that crime and crime prevention is everyone''s responsibility. The police department is the most visible line of defense. We are there to take the calls, do the investigations and make sure the appropriate people are placed in jail. The men and women of the Columbus Police Department are committed to this effort and everyday place their life on the line to ensure that our citizens are safe. We take this responsibility seriously, but we need the help of the community. If our city was able to hire a hundred new officers, we still could not be able to be everywhere at all times.
We must have the support of the community. We need people looking out for each other. We need people to share information with us when they have seen a crime being committed. The citizenry needs to be ready to assist the police with all our crime fighting strategies.
One great way for our community to do this is through the annual, Neighborhood Watch and National Night Out. Tomorrow night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Columbus/Lowndes County will once again celebrate our commitment to making our community a wonderful place to live. The Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Association and The Columbus Police Department invites everyone to attend one of our many functions held throughout our city.
Concerned citizens will be meeting at the following locations:
n Sim Scott Park: 909 20th St. N.
n East Columbus Gym: 227 Lawrence Drive
n Sandfield Community Center: 617 Oak St.
n Charles Brown Gym: 1101 Ninth Ave. S.
n Columbus Housing Authority: 412 Ave. B
I encourage everyone to attend and join in the festivities as we show our support for the community. The goals for this year''s program are the same as every year:
* Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
* Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs
* Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships
* Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
These goals seem simple, but they are important. We must make everyone aware of the importance of knowing what is happening in their community. It is not acceptable to not know what is occurring in your town and in your neighborhoods. Knowledge is power and being aware of what is happening on your street and in your block is the beginning of solving our problems. It is imperative that everyone become aware of what quality of life issues exist.
Over the last few weeks, there have been numerous town hall meetings focusing on crime and other neighborhood concerns. These meeting are important to solve our problems and generate support for our city agencies. We must stand firm and show that the police, city officials and other city agencies are standing together to make Columbus/Lowndes County a better place to work, play and live.
We must show those individuals who are determined to break the law and hurt our community that good citizens are not going to take it. Edmund Burke wrote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." These words are still true today.
We must all make a commitment to make our streets and homes safe. We must stand together to make sure everyone sleeps peacefully. United we can accomplish these goals. A strong community backed by a committed police department cannot fail. Let''s join together for National Night Out and show that unity. Thank you.
St. John is the Columbus Police Chief. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.