What's going on? To effectively combat crime, community must join with law enforcement

August 24, 2010 9:47:00 AM



A group of men dressed like ninjas steals a truck and rams it through the front of a pawnshop. A second group comes back to rob the place again a couple days later. A 13-year-old child (who has been arrested for armed robbery before) holds up a convenience store. Two armed, masked men barge into a tobacco shop, looking to either rob the place or shoot someone before leaving. An 85-year-old woman gardening in her backyard is forced into her home by an unknown man intent on rape, but she escapes. 


And that''s just since Thursday. 


Does Columbus have a crime problem? Yes. 


Is the Columbus Police Department to blame? No. Obviously, the criminals are. But so is anyone who refuses to cooperate with police, or get actively involved in finding solutions. 


The City Council called in Police Chief Joseph St. John and his command staff for a special meeting Monday, in part looking for answers on how to stop the rash of robberies, assaults and burglaries plaguing the city in recent days. 


The council should look not to the police department for help, but to the people in its own wards. Ask a police officer how much cooperation he or she gets from witnesses or neighbors after a crime occurs. Even when someone tries to rape an 85-year-old woman, not much. Police Lt. Selvain McQueen told councilmen that officers met with "untold" amounts of resistance when questioning neighbors about the incident on Thursday in Northaven Woods. The suspect hasn''t been caught. 


It''s time for the good people living in crime-plagued areas, and all areas of the city for that matter, to expect more from their neighbors and from themselves, and to get actively involved in reporting crimes and assisting the police. 


We believe the police department is on the right track, with efforts to increase visibility in crime-plagued areas through substations and bicycle patrols, and the formation of a unit to target violence in bars. 


We urge the department to keep this focus on visibility. Hiding in the bushes at the Riverwalk isn''t being visible. Parking those same officers in a marked patrol car in a crime-plagued area is. 


We''re heartened by St. John''s commitment during Monday''s meeting to reach out to neighborhoods and help them begin neighborhood watch groups. Why wait for the police to come to you? Get together with your neighbors and get involved now by calling the department at 244-3500. 


Crime isn''t just the police''s problem. It''s all of our problem, and stopping it begins with each one of us.