Forum: Council's way to impact crime
Jobs through economic development and crime were the two most often repeated concerns for the City of Henderson by candidates for four seats on the City Council.
The comments came Sunday during a candidates forum put on by the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce, WIZS-1450 AM and The Dispatch. Each topic was mentioned at various stages of the 80 statements from the eight candidates.
Included was the question: How can the City Council impact reducing crime in Henderson? Sixty seconds were allotted for response from each candidate.
The answers varied from the crime rate to the police chief search, and mentioned accountability of the city manager and the public in general.
Ward 4 candidates got the question first, followed by Ward 1 at-large, Ward 2 at-large and Ward 3.
The following are their full answers, in the order they were given:
• Fearldine Simmons, Ward 4 challenger:
“I’m not sure that I can answer that, but I will say this. City Council as a body can collaborate with the departments to find out what is going on and in some cases they might even know what is going on by the concern of the citizens; bring that back to the group, and we work as a group together to help defeat whatever is trying to conquer us in crime. Collaborate with the crime units in the community, Community Watches, to help them and listen at what they have to say.”
• Vernon Brown, Ward 4 incumbent:
“I know one way they can do it. They can keep me. The police chief said crime is already down 9 percent. That’s a whole lot. I’ve only been there nine months, but those numbers sound mighty good to me. But another thing we can do is we can bring back our adult recreation programs. We can keep our youth programs. That was a big debate in the City Council among us this year about dropping some of those youth incentives, those championship medals, not having as many games as they had before and everything. Less ball games from our recreation activities means they’re out there more making up their own games, and their own games sometimes includes crime types of games. So we need to kind of look at that a little bit more.”
• Charles Douglas, Ward 1 at-large challenger:
“There are a lot of ways that the City Council can address the crime issue in the community. The first one before us is the police chief. As we look to replace his seat well, we need to make sure this new police chief is going to help us better address these issues that are facing our community. Not only that, but crime festers in and stays in communities where there is abandoned houses and vacant lots. Cleaning that up will help reduce crime. As far as blight in general, which also helps deteriorate community pride and increase crime, community gardens are another method we can use to reduce crime as well. Getting these kids off the street late at night, when they’re walking around with idle hands, that is something we need to focus on and make sure we work to the hardest of our ability and use all of the influence of the City Council to make sure we’re reducing crime in every ordinance and in every measure we take.”
• Sara Coffey, Ward 1 incumbent:
“One of the main things that I feel we can do as a City Council is listen to our citizens, listen to their concerns, listen to what their problems are with crime. We have mothers with dead children laying in the streets and we’ve got crime that’s not been prosecuted. We need to step up as a council and take a very hard stand on that. Looking at our police department and how it is structured, that goes with the city manager. We have to make sure we have a city manager that controls that, that controls our chief of police. Maybe not control is the right word, but at least looks at how the chief of police is handling the citizens and handling his officers. I think we’ve dealt with that recently. I believe we’ve got a handle on that now. I think the City Council is very instrumental in keeping an eye over the department and making sure they’re doing what they need to do to handle crime.”
• Mike Inscoe, Ward 2 at-large incumbent:
“The City Council can be very proactive in crime. First of all, we need to supply our officers with the most up to date equipment and technology to fight crime. We need to encourage the officers to do more community patrolling, get to know the people in the neighborhoods that they serve. We also need to fund additional positions on our police department, so that we can put more boots on the ground. We also need to look at the community itself. The individuals that live in those communities, they must step up. They must take their communities back. They must report crime and they must be diligent about doing so.”
• Arnold Booth Jr., Ward 2 challenger:
“What the City Council can do is go out into the communities, ward for ward. We all need to go into each other’s wards. We need to work together. If we work together, then everybody is on the same one accord. There may be some areas where crime is high. Turn those high crime areas into like, a one-way street, or if it’s a way that a criminal might get out the back, put a fence up. Its unfortunate how Young Avenue Apartments are. I came up in Henderson, and Young Avenue never had a fence. I’m going around Young Avenue nowadays, and they’ve got a fence around Young Avenue Apartments. And its going to take just a little bit more crime to go on, then they’ll probably get Pernell Welding to weld the gate and to keep those people in the community, and that’s really what we don’t want to do. But we need to most definitely cut down on crime areas. If we know somebody is calling, ‘Yo, we’ve got crime going on in our neighborhood nonstop,’ the City Council needs to get together and be like, OK, let’s look at the traffic pattern. OK, let’s stop this, you know, close the backdoor on them.”
• Garry Daeke, Ward 3 incumbent:
“The City Council is very active in the issue of community policing and making sure we reduce crime. It’s a topic we discuss every meeting. We’re at the point of hiring a new chief and this is going to be critical. We do need someone who can lead our force, that has all the qualities we need that understands this community, the issues that people have. We have a lot of poverty, a lot of people that are suffering in this community. We need a chief that is going to be able to come in and not only handle our police department but deal with the public. We have done an excellent job of training our police officers and keeping them equipped. I think maybe we’re at the point where its time to put more boots on the ground. Community policing is a policy which our police department utilizes to get out and meet the people and we need to continue to do that. Our citizens involved in Community Watch is what makes our community a safer community. Recreation is a key, as Mr. Brown said, and also the blight in our community. I worked very hard recently to get extra money out of our sanitation to take down more houses in this community and we’re doing that.”
• Geraldine Champion, Ward 3 challenger:
“One of the things that they can do to impact reducing crime is to make sure that the police department is held accountable. A lot of times we’re having crimes that are being done in our city, and some of those crimes have been put on the back burner. I really believe that the City Council should get together with whatever police chief we get ready to hire and make sure the investigations are being done properly. I have found in the past that some of the investigations have been not done as well as they should have been. So I believe that if the city council gets with the police chief and the city manager and make sure that those crimes that have been committed, that they are being addressed, then I think that would help with impacting and reducing crime rates.”
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