More Cameras, Cops To Fight Crime Downtown Will Require More Cash

Commission To Vote On Downtown Safety Plan (Image 1)

Sarah Layfield says the violence downtown blows her mind, and more is needed to keep the area safe.

“Definitely need cops and definitely need video cameras I would say both I don't think video camera would do it justice,” she said while walking Broad Street.

Augusta commissioners want to plan  with the Sheriff's office to make downtown safer, and Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton says cameras on Broad Street and the Riverwalk are  part of the  answer.

“The best thing about the camera system not only does it catch them after the fact it also adds to deterrence will guarantee you once the perpetrators know we have extensive cameras systems they're going to go to softer targets,” says Clayton.

But many city leaders want to come down harder on crime.

“The camera will catch somebody, but the damage will already be done, and so I guess, from my point of view I would like to see the officers,” says Commissioner Alvin Mason.

We need more cops, and we need cameras but we need somebody to tell us where the cameras need to go strategically,” says Commissioner Joe Jackson.

And part of the anti crime strategy is for the city to brighten up Riverwalk to improve visibility.

“You got to look at the lighting the trees themselves if there are places people can hide whatever so it you got to look at everything there,” says City Administrator Fred Russell.

Part of looking at everything for downtown will be a request for more permanent deputies; the Sheriff's Office wants to add staff.

“The Sheriff's been proactive on this and he actually  been meeting with Fred Russell over the last month they've been talking about adding three to four officers that would be designated for Broad street and Riverwalk, says Clayton.

And these will be new officers with commissioners having to approve the additional funding.

“Yes,” says Clayton.   

“That should be in his budget, we need to look at that money's tight,” says Commissioner Jackson.   

“It's going to be costly, the technology is great but it comes at a cost, as do the extra police officers that comes at a price to and once again you've got to look at the amount of crime you are dealing with,” says City Administrator Fred Russell.

Clayton says in the short term current officers are being reassigned to increase the police presence in the Broad Street area.

Russell plans to report back to commissioners on what the Sheriff and the city have in mind to make downtown more secure.

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