Local police department tries to fill vacancies as crime hits town

By: Jorge Lopez Email
By: Jorge Lopez Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, March 26, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The City of Waynesboro has lost its chief of police and two investigators in a matter of months.

The men who held those positions left to further their careers in other areas of law enforcement, but the city is now trying to fill all these positions.

"I mean, that's a lot of people that can get harm out there, isn't it?" said 19-year-old Jarquez Gray.

Gray has lived in Waynesboro his whole life, and the older he gets, the more he worries about one thing.

"As long as I'm safe, man, as long as I'm safe," Gray said.

But a shooting on Monday near Liberty Street has taken Gray's sense of security.

When News 12 asked Gray if he felt safe, he answered, "Well, not right now," Gray said.

The shooting happened Monday around 3 p.m. in the alley where a gold store is located. The police tape was still out there Tuesday afternoon, but the GBI is conducting the investigation.

"Our police department is competent," said Councilwoman Brenda Lewis.

She says shootings are sad situations, but the police department shouldn't be blamed or judged for not conducting the investigation.

"With the shooting Monday, it doesn't have anything to do with the vacancies we have to fill. Shootings can occur every day that's a tragedy," Lewis said.

Gray agrees crime happens every day with or without police presence but the GBI can't always conduct investigations for the department.

"Waynesboro police know the people, so I think they will be able to get a little more out of them instead of the GBI or unfamiliar people coming around," Gray said.

Lewis says a new chief should be hired by May but that other positions need to be filled even sooner.

"I don't think we can wait until we have a chief of police come in. These vacancies need to be filled like right now," Lewis said.

However, the hiring process for all positions may be tough with a divided city council. Which leaves Gray with one thing to say.

"Just get it together, get it together. That's all I can say," Gray said.

Popular former Chief Alfonzo Williams recently left to take a position at the Richmond County School System and his head investigator, Joseph Nelson, left to be the top cop at Paine College.

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