Monday, April 25, 2011

Military patrols start Friday night in downtown Columbus

Starting at 10 o'clock Friday, two senior non-commissioned officers from Fort Benning will be walking the streets of Downtown Columbus, also known as, "Uptown." The soldiers will be wearing arm bands that read, "Courtesy Patrol."

Fort Benning's Commanding General Robert Brown, and Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson made the announcement earlier this week.

The need to increase security in Uptown Columbus comes after two weekend incidents in early April.

In the first incident, police say five soldiers beat another man. The beating was witnessed near First Ave. and 10th street- sending the victim - a former solider - to the hospital with head injuries.

The other, a shooting that left four injured - one fatally - at Mario’s restaurant on Broadway. A man is charged in connection with the assault.

Now, Columbus Police will have the company of two uniformed Fort Benning soldiers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Mayor Tomlinson says the soldiers will not be able to make any arrests, but will be able to command order of all military personnel and if need be, alert military police.

“You can’t arrest someone for being intoxicated, but a senior officer can order you back to base or have military police come get you and bring you back to base,” says Tomlinson.

Charlotte Burton says the extra patrols might not be enough.

“I know this is just a start but I think they will have to increase security that's being offered…a lot of people come down here at night,” says Burton.

For Specialist Ryan Jesse - stationed at Fort Benning - he says soldiers will think twice after seeing another in uniform.

“It keeps things in check. It avoids thing getting out of hand which happens a lot with soldiers unfortunately,” says SPC Jesse.

The patrols will last about five hours, ending at 3am (EST) shortly after the bars close.

This is not the first time the City of Columbus has enlisted the help of military courtesy patrols, but it has been years since the practice was used.


What a bad idea.


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