Wednesday night, city leaders came together to talk about crime in Augusta, Richmond County. District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason and Sheriff Richard Roundtree held a town hall meeting to discuss how the community can do a better job at spotting and preventing crime.
A couple of weeks ago, when neighbors held a vigil for the Jones family, Mason spoke out against those in the community who are not acting like neighbors. The Wednesday night meeting was a follow-up to that speech. Mason and Sheriff Richard Roundtree talked about ways to make a Augusta a better place to live in.
Dozens of people packed into the Diamond Lakes Community Center to hear how the Augusta Commission and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office are working together to keep people safe. Samuel Walker showed up to learn how neighborhood associations can do a better job.
“There is a crime problem, but it is a lot of small crimes like breaking into homes and stuff. Not major stuff like murder and crimes like that, but you know, small time crimes. But even if it's small, it can escalate into something large,” says Walker.
Roundtree spoke to citizens about his administration's policies. He says crime is down compared to this time last year. But Mason says there is still more work to do.
“Crime is unnecessary. You talk about the brawl downtown. That was embarrassing to the city. You talk about a mugging on the Riverwalk when we are trying to get people to come and patronize Augusta, Richmond County. You talk about a triple murder. Maybe it's an isolated incident, but it is an incident that is happening,” says Mason.
All of Wednesday night's speakers recommended that people need to walk around their neighborhood and actually get to know their neighbors. And they all say that if a crime happens, you need to report it with as many details as possible.
“Together we can do it. Individually we can not,” says Mason.
Walker agrees with that statement. He says the Sheriff can't do it by himself.
“We as neighborhood members and neighborhood associations and neighborhood watches, we can help deter the crime by getting out there and being proactive instead of being reactive, waiting for something to happen and then calling the Sheriff. But if someone sees a neighborhood watch program, most likely they are going to go somewhere else.”
Roundtree says that rape crimes have increased this year compared to the same time last year, but he says that is because rape victims are coming forward and reporting the crimes. All other crimes are down compared to last year's statistics.