Reeves expresses anger over policing after holiday shootings
Calls decision to pull non-stop police presence from corner of 24th Ave. and Joe Wright Dr. ‘dead wrong’
Wiggins says city is not responsible for providing security for business there
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Cordele Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Royce Reeves questioned the way the Cordele Police Department has been instructed to patrol the location at the intersection of 24th Ave. and Joe Wright Dr. where a man was shot on July 5th.
“…Our chief stepped up to the plate and placed a unit there [around the clock]… and the crowds that we were used to seeing there day-to-day vanished… if most of the crime is going on in that area, why don’t we have a police presence there all the time?” Reeves asked.
“I spoke with the chief, and he said he had been asked to pull units away,” Reeves continued. “People in the neighborhood experienced peace that they’ve never felt before… To pull the police away from that area is wrong. I think it’s dead wrong.”
Chairman John Wiggins said he had asked City Manager Edward Beach to instruct CPD Chief Lewis Green to discontinue a 24-7 presence at Joe’s Store, which sits at the corner of 24th Ave. and Joe Wright Dr.
“The reason why I did that is because I think we’re doing the citizens of Cordele an injustice by allowing a person to be there providing security for Joe’s 24/7… We just can’t do that.”
Wiggins said that when similar problems occurred at a local American Legion post that the problems subsided after the post hired private security.
Commissioner Vesta Shephard said she did not view the policy of a non-stop police presence at the area as protection for Joe’s but as protecting a high-crime area. Commissioner Wesley Rainey said he agreed with the points made by both Wiggins and Reeves and that he liked the idea of a police officer constantly patrolling the area, but not at a single location.
Wiggins said, “I’m not advocating that no police presence be in that area. What I am saying is that we can’t allow a patrolman to sit there in a car 24/7…”
At that point, Reeves said with his voice raised, “If there were random shootings in the east side of town there would be every police, sheriff’s deputy, and state patrol in the community there. This is an outrage. This makes no sense.”
Wiggins said in response that what Reeves’ comment was not fact, but just his opinion.
“It is a fact,” Reeves replied loudly. “When’s the last time you had a shooting in your neighborhood?”
Wiggins responded that two people had been killed in his neighborhood, and Reeves said that had been several years ago.
After both men attempted to speak simultaneously, Wiggin clearly said, “We have a difference of opinion…. I’m going to request that before the next meeting we have a workshop to work this out.”
Commissioners then moved on to other business.