First Friday shooting anniversary helps spark downtown security increase

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, July 4, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Hundreds look forward to downtown Augusta's annual fireworks display, including Erin Haupt and her family, who have gone for years.

"We enjoyed it," Haupt remembered of her last visit. "It was really nice, actually."

She says she's looked forward to taking her four oldest kids to these festivities all year.

"I get them every summer, the older three, so it's my time to enjoy with them," Haupt explained.

But with four kids in tow, Haupt says her main concern is safety.

"I keep them very close," she said.

It's the same concern the Richmond County Sheriff's Office has at this time of year.

"Obviously, with Independence Day going on and then the weekend following with First Friday, we're going to have an increase of officers on the street and foot patrol," said Sgt. Danny Whitehead with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Friday marks the year anniversary since a First Friday shooting downtown that injured six people.

Whitehead says the anniversary has contributed to the increase of security.

"We definitely look at past events and we plan accordingly," he said. "And we make sure we'll have the manpower that we'll need in case we have some type of event like that."

"That makes me feel good to know that," Haupt said. "That's good."

Whitehead says this increase goes beyond downtown.

"We'll have officers not only downtown," he explained, "but throughout the county as far as the holiday weekend because we know some folks are going to partake in drinking and enjoy it, and we want them to do it, but we encourage them to plan ahead."

Something Haupt is grateful for, so she can better enjoy her time with her kids.

"It's actually really good because we don't get to spend a lot of time together," she said.

Whitehead couldn't give an exact head count but says the increase in the number of deputies on patrol this weekend is significant.

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