COLUMBUS, Ga. — With less than a month left in 2017, News 3 is digging deeper into crime in Columbus and breaking down violent crime numbers from this year.
Assistant Columbus Police Chief Gil Slouchick told News 3 that 19 of the 32 murders this year are gang related. He also said even though the number of murders is up from 23 last year, violent crime as a whole is down significantly.
Compared to 2016, robberies are down by 145, burglaries are down by nearly 300, larceny is down by nearly 800 and auto theft is down by 250.
There have been 39 homicides this year in Columbus. The police department classifies 32 of those as murders, a number Assistant Police Chief Slouchick says is too high.
“How do you get into somebody’s mind?” Slouchick asked. “How do you make somebody not want to do that? I don’t know.”
But he does know what his department is doing to reduce murders in 2018.
“It’s a thing of us working with the community and with the people within the community,” Slouchick said.
People like Reverend Ralph Huling, who, like many pastors in the area, graduated from the week-long clergy police academy offered by the Columbus Police Department.
“For 2018, we’ve got to do more as ministers,” Reverend Huling said. “We’ve got to do more as a community to bring people back to a place of normalcy and a place of community.”
So how does the community get started on this?
“It starts in the home in my opinion,” Slouchick said. “It starts with holding children accountable and letting them know the difference between right and wrong and somewhere we’re missing it.”
Police use the DARE and Great programs to help while also relying on religious institutions.
“As the ministers, we’re also working with the schools,” Huling said. “We’re mentoring children at the schools.”
Pastor Huling said he’s optimistic yet realistic about the problems facing Columbus. He tells News 3 it’ll take more than pastors and police to turn things around.
“We want to challenge all organizations,” Huling said. “Let’s all get on board and realize that we have a problem because this problem belongs to all of us.”
Several churches, including Huling’s St. James Missionary Baptist Church, are setting up meeting times to teach parents a wide range of skills.
There’s a meeting next Tuesday at St. Mary’s Road Elementary School in the evening.