‘We want it to stop’: City Council holds public meeting to address Alexandria crime
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - One day after the City of Alexandria reported its 11th homicide of the year, the city council hosted a public hearing on Aug. 9 to allow residents to voice their concerns and offer up solutions to the city.
For the handful of residents that got up to speak, the message from them was simple: to not just talk it out but to see more action to make the city a safer place to live.
One resident said, “We didn’t come here to have a tea party. We came here to address this issue, and we want it to stop.”
The issue revolves around public safety as Alexandria residents let out their frustrations and shared personal testimonies that they do not feel safe in their own neighborhoods anymore. Residents called on city officials, police and even the parents to step up and hold the youth more accountable.
“It’s great to have a curfew, but if you cannot enforce the curfew, the curfew doesn’t matter,” said another resident. “It’s great to call the police, but if the police do not show up and you are held hostage, it doesn’t matter.”
The goal of the public hearing, which was called after a large dispute broke out outside of a bar on Jackson St. two weeks ago, was to find and offer solutions to put an end to the crime not just in one district but across the city.
News Channel 5 asked District 1 Councilman Reddex Washington if the goal of the meeting was accomplished.
“It depends on what you consider success,” said Washington. “We haven’t hit that magic button that is going to stop crime, but we have heard more concerns from our citizens of Alexandria.”
Council President Catherine Davidson did say that hearing from the residents was beneficial as they continue to figure out a strategic plan to combat crime. Council members said during the meeting that the wheel does not have to be reinvented in order to keep Alexandria safer for the youth. The council has looked at other crime plans that other cities have implemented, including New Orleans that they could adjust and apply back home.
Part of the plan is investing in more youth centers and community programs to give the youth more to do during after-school hours.
“I think we have to really address some programming for younger children and to address something to do for the older children,” said Davidson.
Davidson added that the council will look into partnering with non-profits, including United Way and faith-based organizations, to bring those programs year-round.
Davidson also addressed during the meeting that the Alexandria Police Department is still dealing with a depleted department with now 50 officer vacancies. Mayor Jeff Hall reassured that all zones in the city are still covered but admitted that bringing back community policing has been difficult with the officer shortage.
“We can, but it’s not going to be as effective as we would like it to be,” said Mayor Hall. “Quite naturally with the numbers we have, we can’t do the community policing like we once did.”
Following the meeting, the council will look to implement some of the ideas presented, including trying to revive the police department, adding more cameras to high-crime neighborhoods and finding more ways to reach the youth.
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