City council tackles Five Points safety issue

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Columbia City Council tackled several issues Wednesday morning including public safety in the Five Points area. With a recent spike in crime, questions of increased police presence were raised and that led to folks voicing concern about who will do it.

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Five Points store owner Debbie McDaniel is on guard especially after last weekends shooting.

McDaniel says, "it scared me, and what scares me the most is an innocent bystander may be wounded or even worse some day."

She's the owner of Revente and Sid and Nancy's on Saluda Street. McDaniel keeps a watchful eye on her store with security cameras. But she's ready to see uniformed officers hit the streets.

I think we need a ton of police visibility, police on foot all through the area," says McDaniel.

That topic was one of many tackled during the Columbia City Council meeting. Stephen Birnie heads the Hospitality District Safety Taskforce. He says the group is concerned about where areas like five points are headed and who will be leading the way.

"That's really what this is, to have broad presence out there, to be seen by the public and be seen by the bad guys," says Birnie.

One suggested solution is consolidation. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott heading both his department and the Columbia Police force. Bernie hopes the move will get law enforcement to "a level the public expects".

Birnie says, "the bad guy doesn't see the grey line there and say I'm not stepping over it, they could care less."

McDaniel tells me she supports the proposed curfew for 17 year olds in Five Points. She calls it a must for City Council to pass. Birnie discussed the curfew during the council meeting but there is no vote as of yet. Council's vote on the consolidation plan is set for September 29th.

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