After years of neglect, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, with the support of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, has made public safety a top priority .
I recently had the opportunity to discuss our growing crime problem with our new Public Safety Director Jack Lumpkin who told me his main focus initially is to increase the number of police officers in the department and make sure that training is provided so that the quality of policing does not suffer.
I discussed with Mr. Lumpkin the need for victims of crime to be treated with more concern and priority, and for the county to make it matter of policy that victims of crime gain access to surveillance video, owned by businesses.
If the news media can access video of crime, surely crime victims should also have the same right. I also discussed with Mr. Lumpkin, the need for the police department to have a robust tracking system so that crime victims can be updated about their cases.
I asked for the police department to look at increasing the number of locations for residents to obtain police reports. Currently residents have to go to the central office to obtain crime reports, and it is only opened during the regular business hours.
Since we know that many of the crimes are committed by juveniles and young adults, I told him that the department needs to be more proactive in addressing some of the root causes of crime. We discussed the need for police to work with schools to reduce that level of bulling, gangs and public school dropouts. We need to get the repeat offenders off the streets.
I asked Mr. Lumpkin to make the police more forthcoming with information about the department so that residents can better understand how resources are used and how their tax money is being spend, and to look into why some of the department cases do not appear on crimemapping.com, which is suppose to track all the cases in DeKalb over a six-month period.
I also expressed the need for the standards of service to be equal across DeKalb so that residents in every part of DeKalb, including cities and unincorporated areas, can receive and expect the same treatment and same level of service.
I brought to Mr. Lumpkin’s attention the recent high profile cases involving DeKalb Police:
nJune 4, 2017, Officer P.J. Lascheid beat Mrs. McCrary in a store during an attempted arrest. nAugust 6, 2015, DeKalb officer Casey Benton tasered Troy Robinson causing him to fall from a wall, and died of his injuries
nMarch 9, 2015, DeKalb Officer Robert Olsen shot and killed Anthony Hill, an unarmed naked man.
These incidents underscore the need for uniformed procedures to allow for independent review of alleged police misconduct, particularly those that involve aggravated battery or assault, or a death.
Every time, violence occurs, it erodes the relationship between the police, and the faith the community has in our police to protect and service.
Most of the police officers and fire rescue personnel do an outstanding job, but every time, violence occurs, it erodes the relationship between the police, and the faith the community has in our police to protect and serve.
– Ed Williams chairs Concerned Citizens For Effective Government. He lives in Decatur.