COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A sobering and, quite frankly, scary statistic was highlighted during a news conference by the Columbia police department. Listen to this, homicides in the capital city are up 56 percent year to year. The numbers are right there. In 2018, there were 16 homicides in the city of Columbia. In 2019, it jumped to 25.
Let that alarming fact sink in for a moment.
We know crime is a serious problem. We see the stories all the time of victims being gunned down in senseless acts. Earlier this week, as you saw live on WIS, police chief Skip Holbrook discussed the problem. Since November 25th alone, we’ve seen at least four deadly shootings in Columbia. And it is sure to continue. In one case, two 14-year-olds are now charged with murder. Children. Accused of the worst crime anyone can commit. Five of the department's homicide cases remain unsolved and authorities say that's largely due to community members not cooperating with police.
“The key piece to this is staying our course, but we've got to have the community engagement, not just to provide info, but to say their fed up with this,” said Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, “and it's not just acceptable. We need some pushback from the community so these prolific trigger pullers that they aren't welcome in Columbia.”
As an example, police say there were a few hundred people at the scene of a December shooting on Norman Street, said to be gang-related. Many of these deadly shootings are happening in an area of north Columbia--the same general area where the ShotSpotter technology is located. Chief Holbrook says the number of alerts is beginning to decrease, but police are finding the number of rounds being fired at each incident is going up.
The bottom line is this must stop.
No one single thing is the answer. It’s only through the combination of increasing penalties for repeat offenders, breaking up gang activity, improving police relations with parts of the community and residents themselves being brave enough to step up and report what they witness that we will see a change. Until that happens, we will be left to wonder “when will it happen again?”
That’s My Take, What’s Yours?