QA with Franklin candidates: Reducing crime

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

This is the final installment in a question-and-answer series with candidates for the Franklin City Council.

Please assess the crime situation in Franklin. What policies and initiatives would you support to make the city safer?

Mayoral candidates

Jim Councill

According to our police, there are serious drug and gang issues in our city, as well as crimes against citizens. Our city policy is to provide for a safe, secure city for all who live, work and visit here. Our police have the authority and complete backing of me and the City Council in making this happen.

We encourage more Neighborhood Watch participation to be the eyes and ears of the community and to report every suspicious activity, so the police can address each. The police now have secure radios so scanners cannot hear reports and people’s confidentiality is protected.

Educational programs for parents, students, teachers and communities to help identify gang activity, characteristics and awareness should increase. We encourage and support police intervention and aggressive pursuit of drug activity and cases.

The continued use of the drug task force, state and federal assistance is encouraged. Striving for a full complement of officers is our goal, with the hope of reinstating the bike patrols.

Ellis Crum

Franklin crime rates exceed the state and national average in many categories. For a town that is just over 9,200 citizens, we suffer from an elevated rate of drug-related crimes, assault crimes and others. We need to fully fund our police force (along with the fire department and EMS teams) in order to ensure that we have a well-paid, well-trained and well-equipped group of first responders.

I wish that the answer was simply to hire more police officers.

But the answer lies in prevention before detention, education before incarceration. Crime MUST be addressed from every pulpit, in every classroom, around every dinner table, and with everybody.

We will pursue crime in every corner of this city. As mayor, I will lead the discussion and help find the resources to provide incentives for our police officers to be part of the family of Franklin, living here, shopping here and investing into the community. I will hear the citizens as they tell us what is reasonable to invest into solving this issue. We will hear, and we will serve.

Greg McLemore

Franklin has experienced a rise in crime recently involving the rash of burglaries downtown. Also, the Southside is plagued with open-air drug sales. However, I feel that Franklin is a safe place to live, work and retire.

I do fervently believe that there are those who would attempt to intimidate the citizens with the politics of fear to advance their agenda. We do not have a lot of bad crimes like robberies, rapes and murders. We do have a huge problem with youths who have lots of time on their hands to get in trouble due to the failure of the department of recreation to provide adequate programs for the youth of our city. I would support more community involvement by our Police Department with the youth and citizens at large n for instance, walking the streets and meeting the citizens. I would also support placement of cameras in known high-crime areas and encourage our Police Department to work with the probation department to institute red zones to curtail crime.

Ward 1

Barry Cheatham

Sadly, crime seems to be an inevitable part of today’s society. According to, the national crime average in 2006 was rated at 239.8, while Franklin was rated at 333.4 – higher than the national average. At the same time, the details reveal that we had no murders, but high robberies at 278 occurrences. Interestingly, drug crimes were not in this report. Based on conversations with local officers, drug issues certainly relate to the majority of our crime in the city.

We first need to address the outflux of police officers from the city. Also in 2006, we had 2.92 police officers per 1,000 residents compared to 3.00 nationally. Money, once an issue, doesn’t appear to be the only issue. I would also like to see the citizens of Franklin become proactive in the reduction of crime by starting Neighborhood Watches citywide. The police could greatly benefit from reports coming directly from residents. They are the professionals and should confront any wrongdoing, but we can do our part by being their eyes and ears.

Dan Hoctor

I believe we still enjoy a relatively tranquil city, yet our tranquility is being challenged by influences that we see in larger communities. There is some controversy regarding gang-type activity within our city. Local police say they are beginning to see behavior associated with gangs but no “organized gangs.” In my opinion, many of our less serious crimes are perpetrated by youth with little direction or structured programs to participate in.

We need to continue to educate parents regarding programs and activities that are available for those youths in need as well as support citizen groups to help educate and guide those in trouble.

Within the Police Department we are short three to four police officers that we will continue to search for within the high standards that are set by the chief of police. We have lost the ability to relate to our citizens with decreased foot/bike patrols and the loss of our resource officers. A working relationship is fostered between these officers and the citizens/students, when we have the availability of these officers.

Ward 2

Benny Burgess

Franklin has crime.

While the number of violent-crime incidents is relatively small, statistics show that the violent-crime rate has doubled in six years. To successfully fight crime, we must support our Police Department in its efforts to keep this rate from doubling again. But we must go beyond the Police Department. We, as leaders of the community, must reach out to the community for assistance. We need to work with the Police Department to establish more Neighborhood Watch groups, encourage citizens to become the eyes and ears of the police, and implement creative programs that have worked in other cities our size. Crime is also about people who have lost hope. Creating a positive business environment will allow citizens a chance to get a job, support themselves, and develop some pride. Then they can begin to have hope, thus reducing crime. If we make fighting crime a priority, then we can reduce crime.

Charles Wrenn

Crime is growing in Franklin. Our Police Department is well-trained and doing a great job under the direction of Chief Phil Hardison. Burglary, assault and drug activity seem most prevalent. There are several approaches we should take simultaneously:

* 1. Our Police Department should be maintained at full staff.

* 2. Citizens should be strongly encouraged to contact the police immediately when they see suspicious behavior. They will not be identified and will give the authorities information to help them be more effective.

* 3. Franklin should take advantage of every resource offered by state and federal authorities. This could include training, grants, information for the public, etc.

* 4. The schools should do more to educate our students on the consequences of breaking the law.

In summary, the long-term solution is education of the general population and especially our youth. The short-term solution is identifying criminals or potential criminals and vigorously pursuing their being put out of action. I strongly support, and will continue to support, these actions in every way possible.