LaGrange approves additional police overtime for crime suppression

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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In response to recent gun violence and homicides within the LaGrange community, the city has proposed several initiatives to potentially help curb the shootings.

One of the ideas is to conduct more police details throughout the community with the idea that with more police on the streets, crime could potentially drop. More police on the streets means more hours, including overtime hours, which was not initially included in the annual budget.

City Manager Meg Kelsey said she spoke with Police Chief Garrett Fiveash, who has estimated that about $50,000 would be needed to pay for officers’ overtime hours to conduct the additional police details. The city approved the additional overtime hours.

Kelsey said additional officers out in the community has already led to multiple arrests, resulting in guns off the streets.

“I think it’s a positive program, and I think putting money toward that will go a long way to take in some of these bad elements off the streets,” Kelsey said.

Fiveash said that the two 16-hour police details that they have already conducted as part of the initiative have garnered more than 300 citations or warnings with 39 arrests and removed four weapons from the streets.

“That’s 300 citations or warnings, four weapons, and 39 people that went to jail for either warrants or being arrested on misdemeanor or felony charges that we would have never come in contact with whatsoever,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash said their initial plan is to do the additional crime suppression details three days per week for the first 60 days. There will be an additional six officers working those three days per week for 16-hour details.

The chief said they plan to continue the details into November and December at a reduced rate and reevaluate in January.

Fiveash explained that during the details they are going to be actively enforcing the law, some of which they see all the time but don’t have the manpower to address.

“We’re just enforcing the statutes that we’re seeing being violated. We will work in some of the more minor things, seatbelts, your phone in your hand, tinted windows, paper tags, all these things that we see all the time,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash acknowledged that these are minor violations, but they are still violations of Georgia Law.

“We’ve seen when people violate the law they drive to somewhere they commit a crime and they drive away from that. That’s our chance to cross paths with those people and intervene,” Fiveash said.

“The murder that we had at 76 gas station, the subject that committed that — who’s still in the hospital in Columbus now — drove there or was driven to that scene in a vehicle with blacked-out tinted windows. Had we only been able to stop that vehicle ahead of time, we could have stopped that murder,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash said the goal isn’t to write tickets. It’s to gain compliance with the law and stop other potential crimes.

“It’s not a ticket-writing contest,” Fiveash said.

“Our intent is to stop the public and educate them about the law. We’re out there to affect behavior and if we can get that accomplished with a warning, then that’s exactly what we’ll do.”