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Fort Deposit city council addresses juvenile crime

By EASON FRANKLIN
The Lowndes Signal

A city or county’s ability to fight crime rests in many instances with prevention efforts to stop the problem before it gets started.

That’s what the the town of Ft. Deposit and its Chief of Police had in mind this week during discussions about juvenile crime at the city council meeting.

During the Oct. 11 town council meeting, Ft. Deposit Police Chief Chris West addressed the county’s need for beds to house repeat juvenile offenders.

“Not all these kids are terrible children,” said West. “It is the two or three that influence 10 others and usually if you do something with that two or three, the other eight, nine or 10 will fall in line.”

West expressed concern that the county may not have enough money at this time to implement two beds for the juvenile offenders, but he said he feels confident if the local towns can work together.

According to West, most of the crimes the town of Ft. Deposit sees are theft of property crimes. He also noted that during the times juveniles are left unsupervised the town sees an increase in the amount of thefts.

“We have about three or four juveniles that we need this type of process with,” said West.

It is not known what the cost of the beds will be, however Mayor Fletcher Fountain and other members of the town council said they will be working diligently to see that there is some type of change.

“I would like the council to initiate contact with the County Commissioners and other municipalities to determine the cost and the means to make this happen,” said Means.

Means said he “thinks Ft. Deposit needs to give the kids something to do recreationally.”

“We have to re-examine what it is that we have for these kids to do,” said Means. “We as a town and community have not invested in our youth.”

Fountain said he will be working over the next few days to set up a dialogue with Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Debra Caldwell regarding West’s and council’s concerns.

“That would be the appropriate thing to do for us,” said Fountain.

Other agenda items discussed:
– The council motioned, voted and approved the town’s 2011 fiscal budget. Projected revenue for the 2010-2011 fiscal year total $637,807. The town’s expenses were projected at $344,219 with total projected salaries at $66,192 for the year. The police department’s expenses totaled $218,076 and salaries estimated at $157,921. For the town’s street department, projected expenses total $68,512 with salaries for the department totaling $35,559.

– Paula Westmoreland from Central Elementary gave a presentation of her students’ trip to Washington D.C. for the National History Day competition this past summer. Westmoreland thanked the town council for their help in sending the children to participate in the competition.