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‘Not enough resources,’ Shandon Community meeting turns from crime to police staffing

Updated: Jul. 30, 2019 at 5:54 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -A meeting about car break-ins and even the stealing of vehicles in Columbia’s Shandon neighborhood was held July 29, and it was packed with concerned residents.

WIS has been following the concerns of residents who had a chance to meet with the Columbia police department and city council members Monday evening.

In a packed room, the meeting started with the stats about vehicle break-ins and thefts, as well as crime residents feel has plagued this Shandon community.

A number showing 'auto breaking, motor vehicle theft and other offenses' going up year to year.

“Motor vehicles went up also from 1-6. The majority of those crimes we feel are auto break-ins where the keys were left in and increased the motor vehicle theft,” one of the officers giving the presentation said.

Unsecured vehicles, was one of the big takeaways from this meeting. Officials saying over 70% of auto break-ins, in the South Region were of vehicles that were unsecured.

Police did say that they have been working toward addressing the crime and did mention some arrests. Police say those accused of carrying out the thefts in Shandon are coming from outside the neighborhood.

"Mostly a mixture of people around the outskirts of the city limits and from other sides of town."

Then the topic quickly shifted after residents had their turn to ask questions.

The main focus of the meeting for most of the night was not the vehicle break-ins, but the topic of police staffing and finding funding for that cause.

"When the crimes are happening from midnight to 6am there is pretty much no police presence and that is the main problem. If you are understaffed it is not my problem,”one resident said, “and we’re paying taxes. That means we need more staff and you have to demand more staff.”

Columbia City Councilman Moe Baddourah spoke toward the challenges and the need to find police more funding, "We are aware of the money they need the resources," Baddourah said. "We're gonna make some people mad, University of South Carolina not going to be happy with us, hospitals not going to be happy with us, but we have to generate more funds for the public safety."

Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson admits officers are spread thin, but said she’d hope people would be more supportive when it comes to raising taxes and fees, adding “they do a whole lot with a little.”

At-Large City council man Howard Duvall also pushed for the need of funding and said, “we are underfunding the police department, it’s about 3 million dollars,”

Columbia Police Officials did mention that the South Region, where Shandon is, is almost close to fully staffed.

As the meeting stayed and ended near this topic, Russell glass, affected by thefts, walked away still searching for answers.

“Well I think it went on a tangent, however the bottom line is, there's not enough resources to fulfill all of the commitments that the police officers have at this time."

While officers work to continue to curtail the crime, they did offer steps you can take to protect your vehicle and your home.

Besides locking your car and removing valuables, they add more lights and cameras can help. They also recommended cutting underbrush away they would give a hiding spot to those trying to do harm.

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