Warner Robins leaders urge public to get more involved at Enough is Enough meeting
Tuesday night’s Enough is Enough meeting in Warner Robins lasted more than three hours as city and county leaders explained the crime issue to concerned people and let them ask questions.
The emotions that come along with it were on full display at Southside Baptist Church.
“I don't give a rat's behind what you think about me crying when people in my community die, I could care less, and if you want to call me 'Tear Drop Toms' because I get up and cry when I get emotional about people in my community dying, then you have at it,” Mayor Randy Toms told the crowd.
Toms and several other speakers spent two hours explaining the crime numbers and police staffing in detail to people in the audience.
Mayor Toms said he was willing to do whatever it takes to help police.
“If at some point I have to decide to raise your taxes, guess what I'm gonna do? I'm going to raise your taxes, and I don't care because I would rather you be safe then to be mad or happy at me or even vote for me next time,” Toms said.
Police Chief Brett Evans said in 2017, his department had 87,000 calls for service. In 2000, they had 59,900 calls for service. In the same time frame, the number of budgeted police officer positions increased by five and the population increased by tens of thousands.
Evans and the event's organizers, Cody Smith and David Reid, also urged the community to get more involved in their neighborhoods and watch out for each other.
Evans told people to look up from their cellphones more often. Smith and Reid asked the audience to reconnect with their neighbors and speak up when they see problems arise.
Reid, during his speech specifically, spent several minutes showing audience members the rising violent crime numbers from 2015 and 2016 compared to the number of police officers over the years.
Denice Layfield lives in Warner Robins and was in the audience and said being aware can make a difference.
“We do know our neighbors, we do keep an eye on the neighborhood, some of us are up and down anytime of the night and day. We do keep an eye on them. And we've stopped a couple things, we stopped a house from being burglarized across the street from our house one time,” Layfield said.
Layfield also said she thinks there needs to be more officers and said she supports a sales tax for law enforcement.
District Attorney George Hartwig told the crowd that even simple steps like making sure car doors are locked and guns are secure can stop criminals from an easy crime that could build to more violence down the road. Hartwig said in recent years he has prosecuted cases dealing with homicides committed with stolen guns.
At the end, audience members were able to ask questions about what they can do to help prevent crime, including a mom who lost her son to drug addiction last year.