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Are our police protecting us?

The numbers are in for crime during 2007-08. Selma showed a mixed bag with some going down and others going up.

Crime weighs in on many factors. Of course public safety and its strength and visibility play a major role in keeping crime down. But other indicators are good predictors of what will happen. For instance, high poverty areas with high unemployment generally have more crimes of property than those more prosperous areas. Also, areas with higher high school graduation rates and where the population is generally more educated have fewer crimes than those that do not.

But to most of us, it all boils down to: Are our police protecting us?

That’s why implementation of the study of the Selma Police Department, conducted during the James Perkins Jr. administration, is so important. In today’s edition of The Selma Times-Journal, police chief William Riley III says his department has taken that study seriously. The first recommendation of the report was to hire a new police chief to replace Jimmy Martin, who is now a sergeant on the force. That was completed before Perkins left office.

The rest of the recommendations have fallen into place, even with the coming of a new administration under Mayor George Evans, who has worked closely with the police department, meeting frequently with Riley and other key officers to ensure that officers are better trained; background checks are more solid and thorough; officers are heading divisions to ensure quality control within the department and that discipline is handed out evenly and fairly.

Despite budget crunches, Evans and Riley have worked through salary issues and equipment needs for the department to keep public safety within the 21st century in communications and crime-fighting techniques.

As time progresses and the nationwide recession begins to ease, the only way for Selma’s crime statistics to go is down