WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Tuesday night, folks in Warner Robins got some clarity after a local woman organized a public safety town hall.
Louise McBride is a concerned citizen who wants to address crime in her city.
She gathered representatives from the Warner Robins Police Department, Houston County Sheriff's Office, Central Georgia Technical College Police Department, and Warner Robins Fire Department to discuss public safety.
The public was able to speak with law enforcement officers about their concerns, and each department was able to share some of its initiatives.
Megan Western shares folks' concerns and law enforcement's responses from inside the meeting.
"The meeting tonight was purposeful and beneficial," says GiGi Johnson.
Johnson was one of nearly 50 people, who came out to share their concerns.
"My main concern in my neighborhood is the senior citizens and the youth," she says.
Most of her questions centered around programs that would prevent teens from falling into a path of crime.
"What can we put in place without them committing a crime?" she asked during the meeting.
A Houston County Sheriff's Office representative shared that they are open to talking to children and teenagers. He says due to state laws, they are not able to place them in cells.
Captain Wayne Fisher with the Warner Robins Police Department says they are considering other programs.
"We're looking to get involved with the youth cadet program to have a greater engagement with the youth in the community," says Fisher.
Law enforcement also had the chance to share their concerns. They say right now they are short-staffed.
Warner Robins Police say they only have six - ten available officers to patrol some nights.
They are still able to answer all calls, however, it could affect response time.
They have new initiatives they say could help with this.
"We've got a reserve officer program that we just initiated through as well," says Fisher.
Warner Robins council acknowledged this new program at Tuesday's Council meeting.
Chief Roy Whitehead says through this part-time officer program, they would hope to fill 15 of the department's 30 vacancies. These officers would work about 20 hours a week and help where needed.
Ultimately, it would allow them to get more officers on the streets.
They also encourage people to consider attending their Citizens Police Academy.
It's a 12-week course that shows you what working for the department is like. From investigations to what police can and can't do, they say it's a great eye-opener.
They are also implementing new technology to compensate for the need for more officers.
"Software programs that would allow the community for a quicker exchange of file information," says Fisher.
Johnson says a big takeaway from the night is that communication is key, so if you see something, don't be afraid to report it.
She hopes to get out into her local high schools to share the new opportunities soon.
Louise McBride says they hope to hold these meetings regularly.