CPD interim chief working every angle to stop violent crime - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

CPD interim chief working every angle to stop violent crime in city


The Columbia Interim Chief of Police says his department is working every angle possible to stop violent crime in Five Points and the rest of the city.

Interim Chief Ruben Santiago outlined a series of efforts to curb the kind of violence that left a USC student paralyzed and another young woman fatally wounded this summer.

As Santiago began Friday's update on his department's crime fighting efforts, he focused for a moment on the suffering of the parents of a young woman gunned down on McDuffie Street in July.

"I think about D'Andra Pelzer about what I would do as a parent, as a grandparent for my loved ones, that's what today's message is really all about," Santiago said. "It's about the violent crimes that affect each and every one of us, not only in our city but in our state and in our country."

The Pelzer case and the considerably heavier attention drawn by the shooting of USC freshman Martha Childress this month are part of a wave of violent crimes challenging city police.

Santiago says there have been 63 attempted murders in Columbia this year, 56 involving guns.

In a third of those cases, the victim did nothing to provoke the attack.

"No amount of success measures in percentages or numbers are going to change the fact that we have crime in our city." Santiago said. "But it's what we are doing about it. And so we have to have answers. And then we need to talk about what is our next step."

For Mayor Steve Benjamin one of the next steps centers on a plan to identify hard core gang members and slap them with civil injunctions.

Those essentially amount to restraining orders that would prohibit gang members from engaging in certain activities and entering specific zones within the city.

"We are going to put together a new construct that says if you are here if you are in this neighborhood that you don't belong in or are terrorizing this community, the officers of the law have the right to search you; the officers of the law have the right to arrest you," Benjamin said.

Civil injunctions have been used with some degree of success in Oakland, Calif. and other cities where police are credited with cutting crime rates, reducing the visibility of gangs and fear among other members of the community and giving gang members and excuse to get out of gang life.

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