Sheriff must deal with diversity

Tue, 06/17/2008 - 3:44pm
By: Letters to the ...

In the last several weeks, The Citizen has reported on the changing cultural diversity of Fayette County. In the May 21, 2008, edition of The Citizen it was reported that 13,720 new residents moved to Fayette County between 2001 and 2005, most coming from Clayton and Fulton counties.

In the June 4, 2008, edition of The Citizen, it reported, “Fayette’s minority population up to 26 percent.” The newspaper went on to state that Fayette now boasts a non-white population of 26 percent, which is the highest in nearly a half century.

The fact that minority populations have been attracted to Fayette County should not come as a surprise to anyone. People of all races and religions have been attracted to Fayette County because of its great schools, low crime, and great quality of life. All people want the best for their families.

Fayette County is proud to have been named one of the Best Places to Live in America. The county motto, “Where quality is a lifestyle,” is evident across the county. Our unique blend of carefully planned communities and historic charm make Fayette County a great place to live and raise a family.

Like other minorities, my wife Patricia and I immediately fell in love with this wonderful community when we first visited the area in 1989. We decided that we wanted to make this community our home.

In 1996, we built our home in the Whitewater Creek subdivision. For the next 19 months, I commuted between Detroit and Fayetteville. I moved to Fayette County in December 1997.

Once I moved to the county, Patricia and I visited several area churches in an effort to find a place to worship. We were greeted with warm Georgia Southern hospitality in every church that we visited. We selected New Hope Baptist Church (North Campus) as our new church home.

Fayette County is the home of many great churches, and civic organizations. Hundreds of our residents are on mission around the world attempting to help disadvantaged people. Our county is truly a loving and caring community.

Since announcing my candidacy for Fayette County sheriff, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to citizens and business owners all across the county about public safety issues. I have found that regardless of the race or religion of the person, they all want the same thing for their children and families: good schools and a safe community.

I realize that some older residents of the county, who remember when Fayetteville was a rural community with only two traffic lights, are discomforted by all the changes that have occurred over the years. Many of our residents have moved to places like Coweta and Pike counties, in an attempt to avoid the growth that has occurred in our county.

In 1976, when the current sheriff was elected, Fayette County’s population was approximately 28,000 residents. Today, more than 106,000 residents live in the county. Many changes have occurred in the county over the years. Hundreds of new businesses have moved here. Fayette County is now a thriving, healthy, and culturally diverse community. In light of all of the growth that Fayette County has experienced, we can still preserve our great quality of life.

When I am elected sheriff, I will initiate aggressive law enforcement programs to reduce the level of criminal activity in the county. I will create a Special Crime Unit in the department, and assign covert and uniform personnel to curtail robberies, and burglaries. I will create a unit in the Sheriff’s Department to suppress youth gang activity in the county.

Additionally, I will create a Crime Prevention/Community Relations Unit in the department to conduct crime prevention training courses for citizens and business owners. Department personnel will be trained to conduct security surveys and risk assessments for citizens and business owners.

Residents have informed me that the level and types of crimes now occurring in our beautiful county is very disturbing to them. However, based on my experience as a law enforcement administrator, I believe that our crime and gang problems are not insurmountable.

When I am elected to serve the citizen’s of Fayette County as your sheriff, I will use my experience, training and education to form partnerships with local chiefs of police, federal and state law enforcement officials, and corporate security directors to create proactive crime suppression programs to protect the citizens of Fayette County. Criminals who dare to enter Fayette County will be arrested and prosecuted.

On July 15, 2008, the voters of Fayette County will have the opportunity to select a new sheriff. I request that you carefully examine the qualifications of each candidate in the race. I request your support and your vote on Election Day. I pledge to you that when I am elected, I will do everything in my power to preserve our peaceful way of life. I have the experience, training and education to successfully transition the department to a proactive 21st century law enforcement agency.

Fayette County citizens that I have spoken to, regardless of their race or religion, want a safe community to raise and educate children.

Dave Simmons, CPP

candidate for Fayette County sheriff

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