Residents, police work to push crime out of community

Published: Jan. 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:55 PM EST
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Police and residents clean up community to push crime out
Police and residents clean up community to push crime out

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lakeysha Fair is cleaning up her neighborhood in an effort to make it safer.

"People that don't live out here make the neighborhood worse," she said.

Four years ago, Fair and her 7-year-old moved to Four Seasons Apartments off School House Road. Since then, she says there's been nothing but trouble.

"A little bit of everything," she said.

From drug deals to shootings.

"I don't want that to be a bad influence on my child's life to see bad things going on and think when she grows up she can do the same thing," said Fair.

Police say gang activity is a big problem in the neighborhood. Gang tags are on nearly every building.

"Gangs will tag the area they're most prevalent at so they can claim their territory and show where they hang out," said Biran Zwolak with the Columbia Police Gang Unit.

Saturday, the community joined with police to kick them out. It was a joint effort between Columbia Police, the US Attorney's office, property managers, and residents.

"We're basically getting rid of the hiding places," said Brenda Oliver with the Pinehurst Community Neighborhood Council.

Oliver said the task force started in November. The group focuses on crime-prone areas around the complex, like removing trash and overgrown debris around fences and painting over gang symbols.

"As that dries, it's going to darken and then there will be a more consist blend along this wall," said John Curnias with Carolina Ceramics.

Property managers put up new cameras that will be monitored 24/7.

The crime prevention efforts are modeled after a similar program US Attorney Bill Nettles started in North Charleston two years ago.

"This is a shift in mindset," said Nettles. "We recognize in order to make a difference, we've got to do more than lock people up. The community has to be a partner with law enforcement in helping to solve the problem."

Fair agrees it's a problem she's helping to sweep out.

"When people come together, we can make it better," she said.

This task force plans to target other neighborhoods in Columbia.

This coming Friday on Dateline NBC, Nettles will be featured on the show because of a similar program he started in North Charleston.  It airs at 10 p.m. on WIS News 10.

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