Santiago, CPD officers take questions from crowd in crime meetin - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Santiago, CPD officers take questions from crowd in crime meeting

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Members of the Columbia Police Department spent Tuesday night answering questions from neighbors concerned about crime in the city.

Residents in North Columbia spoke directly to officers about making communities safer.

Questions from citizens ranged from the city's gang issue, guns, and to how the strong mayor decision will affect the city's police department. 

"We in Gable Oaks see these guys out in the community, doing things that they should not be doing, such as transacting drugs, having weapons on the property, hiding them when they see the police cars drive by," said one woman attending the meeting.

The woman, one of the many people who took the mic at this meeting, asked what police they are doing to keep her part of town safe. The meeting that started off addressing concerns following a violent weekend in the city of Columbia.

"Maybe sometime we need to change this dialog, and have the government leaders sitting out here, and the people affected sitting out here," said another member of the audience.

On the panel taking questions from the crowd, Columbia's Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago, and representatives from the housing division and code enforcement. Santiago says he expected the questions at the forum to be heated following the weekend shootings.

"We understand that there have been some frustrations," said Santiago. "This has been an area that has experienced its fair share of violence when it comes to guns. At the same time, it's a time for me to really share what we can do to improve what we have been doing, and what we need to do that's going to make it better."

Santiago says a big part of making it better involves continued help from the community, and people speaking out when they see others doing wrong. But one audience member said there's a lot of work to be done in her neighborhood.

"The gang members were out there continually throwing up gang signs, hollering out the gang name, and they were let go," said the woman. "I feel like the police could have done something at that point and time."

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