Crime task force proposes curfew, higher bonds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Curfews for juveniles, higher bonds and a better working relationship between the mayor and the police chief are just a few recommendations from the crime task force.

The task force presented it recommendations at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center Monday night at the city’s second town hall meeting on crime.

The crime task force was created to study crime in the city. Mayor James Perkins Jr. appointed the two co-chairs and three others. Council President George Evans had two slots on the task force to fill. Each council member had the chance to fill one seat on the task force.

According to Perkins, the task force’s creation stemmed from the first town hall meeting on crime, which

was held Oct. 23. Billy Atchison and Barbara Brown, the task force’s co-chairs, took turns presenting the committee’s findings Monday night.

Atchison broke the committee’s recommendations into three categories – community, judicial and city government actions.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Atchison said of the recommendations. “We could have something come up tomorrow that needs to be addressed.”

Community action steps included meetings between the task force, Perkins and Police Chief Robert Green, the creation of an advisory committee in each ward and assisting schools with truancy problems.

“Community actions steps are probably the key to the whole thing,” Atchison said. “Crime is our problem. Crime is a community problem. The only way to stop it is to get the people involved.”

Judicial action steps included higher bonds and the establishment of a juvenile holding facility. “It is the feeling of the committee that a pattern exists in this county where bonds are repeatedly set too low,” Brown said.

The task force divided city government action steps into three categories – city council, the mayor’s office and the police department.

Atchison said a proper chain of command needed to exist between the council and Green. “Supervisory powers over the chief of police need to be immediately delegated to the mayor,” he said.

Other recommendations included Perkins and Green having a positive working relationship, an improvement in police officers’ interpersonal skills and a more noticeable presence of officers in the community.

Green left Monday’s town hall meeting early.

“If we need more police officers, let’s find a way to get them on the streets,” Atchison said. “A continuous focus on community care, respect and communication between the city council, mayor’s office and police department is vital in order to have a safe, prosperous and healthy community.”

Atchison also suggested the creation of a curfew for those 17-years-old and younger. Violators would be punished, as would their parents.

Last week Perkins said he would ask the council to meet in order to implement the task force’s recommendations. “Whatever they are, that’s what we’ll be doing,” Perkins said.