City leaders respond to shootings

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2004

City leaders have different ideas about solving Selma’s crime problem, but they agree on one thing &045; it must be stopped.

City leaders and members of Selma’s Crime Task Force responded to two recent shootings, which occurred this past weekend. Patrick Walker and Keith Crittendon received gunshot wounds in unrelated incidents on Sunday. Walker was shot outside Clyde’s Tornado Lounge & Ballroom. Crittendon was shot on Maxey Street.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. created the crime task force after the city’s first town hall meeting on crime in October. The task force returned in December with recommendations on how to curb Selma’s crime.

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Price said she wanted the task force to meet on a more regular basis. &uot;We can only come up with the plans,&uot; Price said. &uot;If the crime continues to happen, we’ll keep continuing making plans.&uot;

A youth curfew was one recommendation of the task force. Price said the curfew could keep youth out of harm’s way. &uot;A bullet doesn’t have a name on it,&uot; she said. &uot;We’ve got to encourage people to not go to places without police, places known for fighting.&uot;

Corey Bowie, also a crime task force member, echoed Price’s wish for the committee to meet more often. &uot;In the next month, we’ll review the recommendations we made to the council,&uot; Bowie said. &uot;As you can see, they haven’t been effective.&uot;

Bowie added that the task force could develop new recommendations. &uot;If the curfew isn’t working, we need to look at another provision,&uot; he said. &uot;We need to get away from the blame game. That’s the biggest problem I see.&uot;

New recommendations could include bringing the community together. &uot;This is something we’ll have to work together on and solve,&uot; Bowie said.

In a Tuesday memorandum, Perkins states that whenever violence occurs, the community is hurt. &uot;We must stop the violence,&uot; he adds.

Perkins’ statement points to an upcoming evaluation of the Selma Police Department. The city is currently requesting proposals from prospective consultants. The proposals will outline the work strategy, price and schedule the consultants would use when evaluating the police department. &uot;This is a very detailed process,&uot; Perkins states. &uot;It will take time, but in the long run, it will be time well spent.&uot;

Councilwoman Jean Martin said the problem’s root stemmed from parenting. &uot;Many children don’t have conventional homes,&uot; Martin said. &uot;They don’t have a parent or a guardian that put them to bed and sign their report cards. They don’t have that.&uot;

According to Martin, the council is currently in discussion about raising revenue for more police officers. &uot;But how do we raise the money?&uot; Martin asked. &uot;We have a good police force, but they can’t be everywhere at one time. It goes back to the parenting and a lack of it.&uot;

Councilwoman Nancy Sewell agreed with Martin’s wish to hire more police officers. &uot;Right now, they’re operating with low manpower,&uot; she said. &uot;You pay for security. I think that we could find the money.&uot;

Sewell suggested that officers be placed in areas known for incidents, but she returned to the issue of manpower. &uot;It appears to me that our police force is short handed,&uot; she said.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said that nightclubs were an issue, but noted that the solution was beyond her at the moment. &uot;I think that the public safety committee must take control and choose what we want to do,&uot; Crenshaw said. &uot;We have to decide what’s expected of the crime task force.&uot;

The next public safety committee meeting is scheduled for April 5 at 4 p.m. in City Council chambers.