MACON, Ga. — A group of people on Macon's west side want to make their neighborhood safer, but they know they can't do it alone.
Robberies, gunfire, and blight are just some of the problems crippling the west Macon. Now, people living there are trying to take back their streets, and they're asking elected leaders for help.
"We're not looking for no handouts, just to live where we don't have to worry about, you know, 'unsafety-ness,'" said John Smith.
Smith and his wife have lived on the west side of Macon for much of their lives. He says he has "enjoyed every moment of it," but crime in the area has many people just like the Smiths asking for help.
"We're in our old age and certainly would like the city to do what they can to help us," Smith said.
George Crawley, the organizer of the Westside Neighbors United group, says, "We want a return to a sense of community that we've always enjoyed here."
Crawley's group started started meeting in direct response to the violence and blight in the community. To turn those meeting notes into action, he decided to invite some west Macon outsiders to the group, like the Bibb County Sheriff's Office and Macon-Bibb District Attorney David Cooke.
"Making sure that elected officials understand that our neighborhoods are important, that we are here and we are interested in being engaged," explained George Crawley, giving his reasoning behind inviting deputies as well as Cooke.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says that mentality is the best path to rebuilding a community.
"It's essential because, in large measure, a lot of real change doesn't come unless we hear from the community. We're a committed partner, but these people that live on these streets, they know exactly what's happening," Davis said.
Cooke believes the more the community speaks up, the better the result.
"A lot of time, we think we know what the community needs and we think we know what the problem is, but we're not mind-readers, so it's good to have someone tell us directly," said Cooke.
It's this open dialogue that Crawley says can help create a better place to live.
The Westside Neighborhood United group was created 6 months ago in response to crime in the area, according to the organizers. They meet once a month. This is the second time that the group has invited elected leaders to attend.
If you want to start a neighborhood watch group in your area, the Bibb County Sheriff's Office can help. You can call (478) 751-7500.
We can't do this on our own, we need your help too. We'd like to invite you to take a brief survey on your thoughts on youth violence in your community.
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