LaGrange council members call for stronger law enforcement to curb gun violence

Published 9:30 am Saturday, April 15, 2023

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In the wake of the murder of 20-year-old Davaris Lindsey, who was shot on McGregor St. on Sunday, several LaGrange council members voiced recommendations for stronger law enforcement across the city.

Councilman Nathan Gaskin said during the council meeting Tuesday that he had contacted the NAACP to make them aware that he believes increased law enforcement is needed to help curb shootings in LaGrange.

“As an individual, I can’t do anything. But as a councilman, I know what must be done,” said Gaskin, calling for increased law enforcement across the city.

“As a result, it’s going to, I think, give the appearance that it may be picking on Black folks. But all these people that have been killed are Black,” he said. “I take no pleasure saying that I will have to support stronger enforcement.”

Gaskin said he understands that means that some people are going to be locked up and they’re going to say they don’t deserve to be locked up, but increased enforcement is needed.

“As a community, what are we going to do? We can’t have anarchy across the community. People want to feel safe in their own abode,” Gaskin said.

Councilman Mark Mitch voiced agreement with Gaskin, saying that more law enforcement is needed to reduce LaGrange’s teen violence.

“I agree with Councilman Gaskin. We’re going to have to hit this thing from all different angles,”

Mitchell said.

Mitchell asked if there is anything the council could do to convey their sentiments to Juvenile Court Judge Michael Key that the current punishment violent kids are getting is not enough.

“When our police department catches these kids with guns, we’ve got to put give them some punishment that makes them aware that they can’t have pistols,” Mitchell said. “There’s no excuse for a child under 18 having a pistol.”

“I don’t think that the public is really aware of what happens when the juveniles are arrested because of lack of services, lack of support, lack of [Youth Detention Center] space. Less than 24 hours, they’re back at home even after a violent episode,” Gaskin said.

Mayor Willie Edmondson said new Police Chief Garrett Fiveash has a lot of work to do and the community is going to have to work with him.

“He may have to impose some curfew hours for children that’s less than 18. He may have to buy back guns to try to get some guns off the street. All of these things he may have to do, and we’re going to have to support our chief in doing so,” Edmondson said.

Mitchell noted that the police still need to do their jobs professionally as well.

“I support the police department, but this in no way gives any of them the authority to mistreat people. They’re going to treat people with respect, to do their job and do it 100% professionally and still treat people with respect,” Mitchell said.

“This is not an excuse for police brutality,” Edmondson said.

“I don’t know if this council has the answers, but we are making the plea that something must be done,” Gaskin said.