Recent Attacks Fuel Criticism About Downtown Augusta Security

Recent Attacks Fuel Criticism About Downtown Augusta Security (Image 1)

The Augusta Commission will discuss security measures in downtown Augusta after recent downtown attacks have taken place. WJBF News Channel 6's Dee Griffin reports.

Just about every day, dozens of people go to the Augusta Riverwalk downtown.

“As you see, I'm out here taking a walk. I do this a lot, it's a daily routine,” says Augusta Riverwalk walker Jonathan Griffith.

But, Riverwalk's beauty is being threatened by ugly incidents of violence.

A Beech Island man suffered a concussion Thursday night from an attack on Broad Street. Investigators say the attacker stole the man's keys and car. And on Friday night, a romantic night on the Riverwalk ended when a couple from Edgefield was attacked by two men with bats. The victims were rushed to the hospital, while area residents rushed to question the amount of law enforcement policing the downtown area.

“We had at least ten extra deputies downtown Friday and Saturday. They might not have been assigned to that particular area where an incident might have occurred but they were downtown,” says Sergeant Shane McDaniel, with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, who also says the Sheriff's Office has made a conscious effort to maintain a strong presence, especially on nights when the population downtown swells.

Still…some residents question whether big law enforcement crackdowns like Operation Rolling Thunder take away security from areas that need it most.

“No, ma'am. We have just as many deputies working Rolling Thunder, which is a joint operation with other agencies, as well as we do on road patrol. If anything, it is a huge asset,” Sgt. McDaniel says.

Long before Friday night's attack, the Augusta Commission set aside time to talk about installing cameras along the Riverwalk. City Administrator Fred Russell says the issue hasn't been officially brought up…but it may come down to feasibility. “As the technology becomes better and better, the feasibility and the price become cheaper and cheaper. You've got to weigh that against what you may get out of it,” he says.

In the meantime.. Riverwalk visitors are taking matters into their own hand by using common sense as their weapon of choice.

“I think it's more safe to come out during the day and not at night because the situation that just occurred could happen at night,” Griffith says.

Augusta Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the Riverwalk cameras at Tuesday's meeting.

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