Combating crime together

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This week Selma City Councilman Cecil Williamson went on the local news to say that we need “martial law” and suggested that the governor send in the National Guard to get the city’s “crime problem” under control.

It was a bold move and one that could incite people, said Dr. Ralph Ioimo of Public Safety Consultants, Inc., the group that is working on a comprehensive study of the Selma Police Department.

Ioimo said he plans to begin interviewing police officers this week and city officials need to be prepared to respond to the results of the study by making whatever changes are necessary, whether that means increasing personnel, updating equipment or taking other action to keep the law abiding citizens of Selma safe.

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And, if the study finds there needs to be major changes in the police department, it’s the mayor and city council’s responsibility to act on the information they are given. Otherwise, such a study is a monumental waste of time and taxpayer money.

Once the study is

completed, we suggest the results be made public. The people of Selma who fund the local police department have a right to know what an outside consultant who specializes in such matters has to say about their police force.

But, until that time, it’s premature and irresponsible for a city council member to make the type of statements made earlier this week.

Selma, like every city in country, has a problem with crime. And while we’re not gullible enough to believe crime will be totally eliminated, even if there are sweeping changes in the city’s police department, it’s the mayor and city council’s responsibility to make sure everything is being done to minimize it. And, right now, we don’t think enough is being done.

Recently, several businesses were burglarized including a downtown restaurant, jewelry store and grocery store. Some of the business owners, as well as private citizens, have complained that the Selma Police Department’s response to the burglaries and other calls for help have been slow to come, if they come at all.

This is not a condemnation of the entire police force, only those who are in leadership positions who are not leading in a responsible manner.

But, one thing is clear.

Officials need to work together in order to combat the problem and take a bi-partisan approach in doing so.