Crime worries citizens

Published 8:18 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FRANKLIN—Franklin residents spoke out Monday night about an increase in violent crime within the city limits.

Speaking during “Citizens’ Time” at the City Council’s semimonthly meeting, Wesley Jones said he considers himself a commuter who works mostly out of town but one who is still very concerned about reports of increased criminal activity in the city.

“Here lately, I’ve had several disturbing conversations with my neighbors. It seems that crime is running rampant,” he said.

Jones said something needs to be done to contain the problem before it gets worse.

“We have do something to deal with the crime,” he told council members. “All of us must get involved. This isn’t a ‘Northside’-versus- ‘Southside’ problem or a black-versus-white problem. It’s a Franklin problem.”

Jones called on the council to pull together a commission of concerned citizens to help officials find a solution to the problem.

“I would ask that members of the council search your hearts, souls and spirits and start putting something in motion.

“If we don’t get a hold of this thing, this thing is going to get a hold of us.

“It’s in our homes now —my home, your home, our friends’ homes. Each of us can do better, and we are going to have to do better.”

Councilman Benny Burgess agreed with Jones.

“I believe it should be a topic of discussion. If it happens on one side of town, it happens on the other. Citizens can’t depend solely on the police department. We also must be soldiers in the community,” he said.

Franklin resident Greg McLemore also chimed in, suggesting that more street lights and cameras should be installed in high-crime areas.

McLemore also said the issue is not one that solely rests in interim City Manager June Fleming’s hands and that departments other than the police need to become more engaged.

“I believe more programs with the Department of Parks and Recreation aimed at kids 14-18 would give these young people something to do and maybe keep them out of trouble,” he said.

Fleming said that although her position is not permanent, she considers the crime issue one of her main priorities.

“I am here right now, and it is my shoulders that this falls on,” Fleming said. “ I want you to know that we have discussed issue at length.”

Fleming went on to say the strained Franklin Police department was doing its best to keep up with demands.

“There are times when our officers go 48 hours without any sleep at all,” Fleming said. “They love this community and they work hard. We really are trying to do everything we can.”

Councilwoman Mary Hilliard suggested the police chief might have ideas that the community could benefit from hearing.

“The chief has the eyes of the community and could possibly have some suggestions for citizens.”

Fleming promised the crime issue would be an agenda item during a City Council meeting as soon as possible.