Selma leaders search for solutions to stop crime

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Ten violent deaths occurred in Selma in 2003, now two more have already happened in the first month of 2004.

The question is: What is being done to stop them?

In October, Mayor James Perkins Jr. created a crime task force to examine the issue of crime and return with recommendations on how to solve the problem.

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The task force returned in December and delivered those recommendations at a public forum and to the Selma City Council.

The suggestions have yet to be implemented.

Durry said the council currently faced several issues, including Assistant Police Chief Robert Jacobs’ retirement, a probe of the police department and the possibility of paying a fee to the water board for every fire hydrant.

Councilwoman Jean Martin said she endorsed the curfew recommendation, but noted that its implementation would be difficult.

If a police officer caught a juvenile after-hours, and the juvenile refused to go home, could the child be arrested? If he could, where would the officer take the child?

Durry and Martin’s comments come on the heels of Selma’s second violent death of the year. On Tuesday, police officers responded to a call about shots being fired on Voeglin Avenue. Upon arriving, officers discovered Clinton Peeples Jr. who had apparently died of a gunshot wound.

When Perkins was asked what the city could do to provide immediate relief from crime, he suggested the council be asked that question. &uot;I would love to have the ability to implement a plan, but because of the way things are, I don’t have the ability to do that,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;I want to identify an organization to come into the police department and do an assessment. Since the council won’t listen to me, maybe they’ll listen to the consultant.&uot;

The council previously voted on bringing a consultant into the police department for an assessment. According to Perkins, he’s in the final stages of writing a statement of work, which should be issued to prospective consultants next week.

A statement of work gives a detailed description of what the city is looking for in a consultant.

Concerning the crime task force’s recommendations, Perkins noted that the council had yet to act on them. He added that Police Chief Robert Green indicated a curfew had been considered in the past, but never acted on.

Atchison added that citizens must work together to solve the crime problem. &uot;Crime isn’t a police problem,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s a community problem.&uot;

Task force member Tina Price echoed Atchison’s comments. &uot;We need to focus on our wards and call more community meetings,&uot; she said. &uot;You’ve got to know your neighbors and watch out for them.&uot;

Price said she plans on calling a neighborhood Ward Six meeting for February.