There has been some concern in various communities for the safety of those communities, as well as crimes that go unsolved or authorities who don't do their jobs very well.
We have some great officers. I have met many, many of them since we moved to Columbia in December 1996. I am certain those officers are doing their jobs well.
However, we have an ex-police officer who is serving time for the murder of a Columbia resident and an ex-police officer who went into a locked cell with two other officers and beat an unarmed man. We have other instances where people have been mistreated by some of the police officers.
As we browse through the local media, we have also learned about more than one complaint about unresolved crimes in Columbia.
Our excellent officers work under this strain every day. They are dedicated and risk their lives. They are underpaid, relative to what they do and risk; they are stretched thin and get no recognition for the duty they live through each day for us.
Let us then help them. Besides praying for those great officers, let us have teams of safety volunteers in each community in Columbia. (Some are already in place.) And you can do it as one person, every day, everywhere you are.
Remember to watch for the officers who do not do their jobs well (thus, escalate the trouble, instead of resolving it) and seek out safety issues on our streets that we can easily correct to make it safer for all.
We have many who work their jobs and take on the extra. They should be rewarded with our supporting/helping them keep Columbia safe.
We also have people on the city payroll who do zip. They should be replaced and will be eventually.
Columbia: At 100,000-plus strong, we are all in this together, and with response time from dispatch call estimated to be 45 minutes, we need to pull together as a community to help the great officers who patrol and try to help us, despite the strain.
Neighborhood Watch has tried, but it is said that most of them are "neighborhood gossip fests," and some even are said to be "neighborhood stalks" when manipulated by a gossip or troublemaker.
This is not about spying on the people around you and trying to get them into trouble just to feel empowered by controlling others. This is about helping people be safe. That can include contacting someone outside the Columbia Police Department if you do not trust their judgment or feel you will not be treated fairly by them.
Volunteer Community Safety Advocacy works on an individual basis. You cite the problems of safety and you legally and logically report them to people who can help you mend them for all concerned about safety issues who will be affected at the point of unsafe activity or site. (Delcia Crockett is the contact; email email@example.com.)
Do it professionally and politely with the people who can help you most in resolving a safety issue. Stay calm. Don't get in hissy fights with emotionally dramatic people, and stay focused.
It might take a little time and a lot of resolve, but remember that you are in it for the good of your community, not to be self-lifted. Most people will never know it was you who helped them be safe, and that is as it should be. Give the people who helped you all the gratitude for "a job well done."
I know one person who takes his camera everywhere he goes and photographs any sites he sees as unsafe. He does it in his spare time, he uses a disposable, inexpensive camera and mails it to the appropriate source of safety regulations.
The life you save may be your own, that of a loved one, a precious child, a stranger or a family pet. You can help bring Columbia back one street at a time as you try to help remedy an unsafe location.
As Columbia moves into the future at a growing rate, we will have to take on this individual responsibility. We do not have the manpower in the police force at present to do what some excellent officers try to do all the time.
It is our duty as private citizens to do all we can to keep the peace and yet to be as safe as we can, while we help the officers who do their jobs so well trying to keep us safe from harm.
Let's not hesitate to have our eyes wide open, and quietly and peacefully go about that duty.
Delcia Crockett is a volunteer community safety advocate in Columbia; her contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.