Chief Stacey Cot­ton Q&A

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­

With sum­mer months com­ing to a close, The Cov­ing­ton News ed­i­to­rial staff sat down with Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment (CPD) Chief Stacey Cot­ton to dis­cuss crime trends in Cov­ing­ton and what the depart­ment is do­ing to con­tinue to pro­tect the com­mu­nity.

The News: What kind of crime prob­lems did the city see dur­ing the sum­mer? Will those sub­side now that school is back in ses­sion?

Cot­ton: We al­ways tend to see a rise in our ju­ve­nile is­sues dur­ing the sum­mer be­cause ob­vi­ously kids who are not in school have more time on their hands and no parental guid­ance does call for an in­crease in that. There’s two trends that I think are our big­gest con­cerns right now, it’s the in­crease in A: the ju­ve­nile crime and the sever­ity of ju­ve­nile crime and the in­crease from peo­ple from out of town com­mit­ting crimes in Cov­ing­ton and those are ju­ve­nile and adult of­fend­ers.

The News: Does the CPD have any ef­forts in action to stop the crime be­fore it gets here for the out-of-town­ers?

Cot­ton: Who do I know that’s com­ing down I-20 right now and what gate could I put up on I-20 to keep them out? And I ask that, not to be down­grad­ing but, when I say that to peo­ple I get looked at like I have three heads. 65 per­cent of who we locked up show they’re not from Cov­ing­ton, they’re not even New­ton County ad­dresses. That is a new trend. That is some­thing we’ve seen prob­a­bly a lot more in the last three years. We’re see­ing that in en­ter­ing au­tos and thefts, es­pe­cially down our busi­ness cor­ri­dors. If we have a crime, nor­mally here in Cov­ing­ton, if it’s a lo­cal per­son they’re go­ing to tell some­body. They’re go­ing to tell some­body and some­body’s go­ing to tell some­body that snitches for us and we’re go­ing to solve it. We don’t have that with these peo­ple so a lot of those crimes are dif­fi­cult for us to solve be­cause we have no idea where they even came from. The News: What do you see as crime trends in the city and where are they go­ing?

Cot­ton: I don’t know if there are any trends that are trou­bling me. I don’t think there’s any one par­tic­u­lar thing. A lot of this stuff is tied back to drug ac­tiv­ity, you know, ob­vi­ously sup­port­ing peo­ple’s drug habits or they’re un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs and they want to do this to sup­port their stuff. The thefts we see are com­ing from the out­side. We’re be­ing in­un­dated from things com­ing from the out­side and their abil­ity to, what they’re do­ing is they’re hit­ting in our busi­ness ar­eas, our re­tail ar­eas. That’s the trend that has kind of flip-flopped. It used to be most of our crime was in res­i­den­tial ar­eas and it would be lo­cal­ized within a com­mu­nity and now that’s kind of taken a back seat.

The News: Meth, opi­ates, al­co­hol or In­ter­state 20: Which is the big­ger con­trib­u­tor to crime in Cov­ing­ton?

Cot­ton: That’s a dif­fi­cult one. I would prob­a­bly have to say depend­ing on if it is crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity I’d have to say I-20 and meth. If we’re talk­ing about do­mes­tic vio- lence, ar­gu­ment calls, fight calls, dis­agree­ments, things like that. I’d have to at­tribute that to al­co­hol. We’re not re­ally see­ing a whole lot of, in Cov­ing­ton, a whole lot of opi­ates. We know opi­ate stuff is go­ing on, but we haven’t re­ally seen a huge amount of it. We’re get­ting a lit­tle bit of the drugs, but mar­i­juana is a big­ger thing.

The News: Are gangs a prob­lem in Cov­ing­ton?

Cot­ton: In At­lanta, not lo­cally. We’re be­ing af­fected by the gang ac­tiv­ity in At­lanta, but not at the lo­cal level. I can’t speak on any­thing but in­side the City of Cov­ing­ton, but our gang ac­tiv­ity is – and this is go­ing to sound the same – still at the ju­ve­nile level with en­ter­ing au­tos and small, petty-type crimes. With that said, the At­lanta gangs, the real, true adult gangs: nor­mally when we deal with some­thing, we don’t come across adult gang mem­bers in Cov­ing­ton. When we’re deal­ing with ju­ve­niles who may be part of an At­lanta gang they are ob­vi­ously backed by adults be­cause of the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of what it is they’re do­ing. Some­body has come down, lots of times you can tell, they’ve come down and some­body’s scout­ing ahead so they know what they’re go­ing for. That’s prob­a­bly an adult or two – look­ing at the se­cu­rity sys­tems, look­ing at the bars on the doors, what it is go­ing to take to breach the doors, where the guns are lo­cated, how the guns are locked up, what it’s go­ing to take to get them – and then they go back and ex­plain to the kids what to do and how to do it. Most 15 or 16 year olds are not go­ing to do the so­phis­ti­ca­tion un­less some­body teaches them and it’s not hard.

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