Let­ters to the ed­i­tor

The Covington News - - Opinion -

Crime in New­ton County

Dear Ed­i­tor: For the fifth time this year, the peace­ful tran­quil­ity of our beau­ti­ful county has been bro­ken again by an­other act of mur­der. I am per­son­ally sad­dened at the loss of yet an­other com­mu­nity mem­ber. My wife and I have been liv­ing in New­ton County for al­most 10 years. We moved here be­cause we felt that it was a safe place to live and raise our daugh­ter. We are now ques­tion­ing our de­ci­sion. My wife, who is orig­i­nally from Eng­land, has al­ways had an un­easy feel­ing about liv­ing in the United States be­cause of the per­ceived crime rate. For years, I have as­sured her that liv­ing in the United States is just as safe as liv­ing in Eng­land. Lately, I find my­self ques­tion­ing my fam­ily’s safety in New­ton County. In the last year, my neigh­bors’ homes have been bur­glar­ized, my neigh­bor’s car was stolen and re­cently my wife’s ve­hi­cle was forcibly en­tered. To say that we no longer feel safe in New­ton County is an un­der­state­ment. How­ever, we feel that we can­not give up on a county that we love so much and we don’t want to have to move.

We, as a com­mu­nity, need to find out why this is hap­pen­ing in our com­mu­nity. As a cit­i­zen, I have spent nu­mer­ous hours re­search­ing the crime trends in New­ton County. I be­lieve the surge in crime is di­rectly re­lated to the clo­sure of the East Metro Drug Task­force. We need to ask that the drug task­force be re­in­stated.

I have worked in law en­force­ment for over 32 years and per­son­ally know that sev­eral of the elected of­fi­cials who dis­banded the East Metro drug Task­force were un­in­formed about the fund­ing and ef­fects that the dis­band­ment would have on the county crime rate.

Dur­ing my law en­force­ment ca­reer, 90 per­cent of the crimes that I’ve re­sponded to and/or in­ves­ti­gated were re­lated to drugs or al­co­hol. I re­al­ized early in my law en­force­ment ca­reer that drugs and al­co­hol de­stroy fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties re­gard­less of race or so­cial sta­tus. In 2007, in the State of Ge­or­gia there were 22 multi-ju­ris­dic­tional drug task-forces. How­ever, in July 2007, the num­ber of fed­er­ally funded drug task-forces in the State of Ge­or­gia dropped to 21. The East Metro Drug Task­force, which con­sisted of mem­bers of the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice De­part­ment, Cony­ers Po­lice De­part­ment, New­ton County Sher­iff De­part­ment, Rock­dale County Sher­iff De­part­ment, New­ton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice and the Rock­dale Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, voted to dis­band a 17-year op­er­a­tion, even though the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was award­ing be­tween $177,721 to $263,440 a year to fund the drug task­force. In­stead of hav­ing a multi-ju­ris­dic­tional drug task force, our ap­pointed and elected law en­force­ment of­fi­cials de­cided to have the New­ton County tax­pay­ers fund their own Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit which would “fo­cus on other crimes.” I think New­ton County’s re­cent surge in crime would sup­port those stud­ies. If you ex­am­ine and com­pare the FBI crime sta­tis­tics for New­ton County and the city of Cov­ing­ton with Ge­or­gia coun­ties and cities of sim­i­lar size and de­mo­graph­ics, you’ll see that the crime rate for New­ton County and the city of Cov­ing­ton are dou­ble and even triple the rates of Ge­or­gia coun­ties and cities with sim­i­lar de­mo­graph­ics.

This year as newly ap­pointed and elected law en­force­ment lead­ers are se­lected and voted into the se­nior law en­force­ment po­si­tions within our county and city, we must ap­point and elect only those in­di­vid­u­als who un­der­stand that the root of 90 per­cent of the crime in our county is re­lated to drugs and al­co­hol and will reestab­lish a multi- ju­ris­dic­tional drug task­force to fo­cus ex­clu­sively on the war on drugs. Randy F. Up­ton


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