We are one week removed from one of the worst crime sprees I can remember. Sex offenders, arsonists, armed robberies, and the shooting of a police officer – that doesn’t sound like our sleepy little community, does it?
Unfortunately, those events have indeed taken place in Coffee County in a relatively short period of time. Late last week, Douglas mayor James Dennis called a press conference to address these crimes. It’s the first time I can remember a sitting mayor – or any other elected official, for that matter – holding a press conference to discuss crime.
Mayor Dennis urged citizens to be diligent, take note of their surroundings, and do everything possible to keep criminals from getting the upper hand in our community. I agree with him 100 percent and everything he said was spot on. I believe, however, that there is something more sinister going on in our community.
We have a shortage of law enforcement officers in Coffee County, and that shortage may be causing us some significant problems. At last week’s city commission meeting, police chief Gary Casteloes asked the commission to hire six off-duty deputies to help patrol the city. He said that his department is down six officers and he needs to the extra help until he can fill those vacancies. At the meeting, Chief Casteloes also said that the county was short even more officers than the city.
If you take a look at the jail census, it is also down. So are probation revocations. If you take note of everything, a disturbing picture emerges: We have fewer officers in our departments. There are fewer people in our jail. Which means that there are more criminals on the streets. I fear that our law enforcement officers are not being given the resources they need to adequately do their jobs. There is a reason why officers are resigning. There is a reason why morale is low. And there is a reason why criminals aren’t being locked up.
What is happening is disturbing and dangerous. I believe that the safety and well-being of our community is in jeopardy. A war is going on and right now, we – the law-abiding citizens of Coffee County – are losing. Just take a look at everything that’s happened in the last couple of weeks.
We depend on our law enforcement officers for our safety. When they don’t have what they need to do their jobs, our well-being hangs in the balance. For the sake of Douglas and Coffee County, I hope our leaders will take a long, hard look at why our law enforcement agencies are compromised right now and take the necessary steps to fix it immediately. If they don’t, the kind of stuff we’ve been reporting for the last couple of weeks will keep happening.
- Ann Deen Sunday, 21 September 2014 10:30 Comment Link Report
Last night on September 20th, around 9 p.m., I heard shots firing off__ a rapid double fire at close range near my house on Chester. It was close range because it was loud enough to stifle my tv, with the windows closed. I stepped outside curiously, to my back porch, and a loud blast ensued as if it were aimed in my direction. It seemed to be coming from the direction of N. Wheeler toward N. Chester where I live. I went back inside and called 911 as 2 more blasts fired away. I reported the incident. It stopped almost immediately, but I was really on edge. I'm sure my neighbors on Chester and the cul de sac on Letitia (behind my street) heard the blasts. There is no excuse for this irresponsible behavior from whomever does this. It makes me angry that people are so stupid that they put others in danger. I live in a peaceful neighborhood and I want it to stay that way. I want our community to feel safe in order to encourage growth economically for the city of Douglas. There seems to be too many perfs roaming freely. Their insanity is no excuse for endangering the lives of our children, the retired elderly, and those who work hard to have a home and pay taxes. The government is losing its focus if it is cutting back on law enforcement. If that's the focus in govenment, then those in charge should be held accountable.
- Anon Thursday, 24 July 2014 21:38 Comment Link Report
Amen. I just don't think there is a link between jail census/probation revocations and this recent uptick in violent crime. I speculate the recent violent crimes are due to a very small, but very active, group of people. I don't believe nonviolent offenders should be jailed either. I BELIEVE VIOLENT OFFENDERS SHOULD and this area should be the focus of law enforcement's resources. Also, if County L.E. is more understaffed than the City Police, why is the Chief wanting to hire off-duty Deputies? I realize they're already certified, but can't we just advertise for the jobs and then send them to Forsyth?
- someone who wants to feel safe Saturday, 19 July 2014 16:55 Comment Link Report
I think that we need more better trained cops in our town. Maybe if they was better trained and actually cared about our town then people will feel more safe on calling the cops for help on crimes. We have too many bad cops and you never know which ones you can trust.
- Steve Saturday, 19 July 2014 12:57 Comment Link Report
We don't need more officers, we need better trained, hard working officers who are mentally competent to do their job... I believe that all non violent criminals should be put on probation, not in jail, that would save the county and state millions of dollars, and then we could afford to hire better trained officers.