Community members gather to discuss how to lower crime rates
By Reese Gordon email@example.com
Aug. 12, 2014 at 10 p.m.
More than 40 community members gathered Tuesday night at Broughton Recreation Center to discuss solutions aimed at reducing violent crime in Longview.
The meeting, organized by grassroots organization Anti-Violence Community Team, featured a guest panel that included Longview Police Chief Don Dingler, District 3 Councilwoman Kasha Williams and Longview NAACP President Branden Johnson.
Dingler said Tuesday that the presence of neighborhood crime watch groups has helped to lower the crime rate through the first six months of 2014.
"Crime is down 14 percent from last year," he said. "Things are looking good, but we can't do anything without your help."
While the Longview Police Department can offer tips on reducing most types of crime, Dingler said homicide can be different.
"That can be difficult because many murders are driven by passion," he said.
Uniform Crime Report data for the Longview Police Department show there have been two homicide cases in the first six months of 2014, which mirrors the number of homicides for the first six months of 2013.
Longview police arrested a Tyler man in the June 15 shooting deaths of Longview residents Chanda "Candy" Martin, 38, and Kim Rayson, 35.
The suspect in the homicides, Isaiah Christopher Roberts, 29, was the ex-husband of Martin. Gregg County 188th District Court Judge David Brabham arraigned Roberts on June 19 on a charge of capital murder.
The shooting deaths of Martin and Rayson came a little more than two months after an April 6 shooting on Beaumont Street. Jakerion Allison is charged with three counts of aggravated assault in the shooting.
Tammie Porter, an Anti-Violence Community Team member and moderator of Tuesday's meeting, helped organize a peace rally at Broughton Park in the wake of the April 6 shooting in which Tavarus Christopher Glaspie, 35, Anthony Anderson, 35 and Josiah "Joey" Hollister, 15, were killed.
Porter said Tuesday's meeting organized by the Anti-Violence Community Team is only the beginning.
"The reason why we came together was to enhance what was already in place," she said. "We want to spread a positive light in the community of Longview."
Longview Police Area Representative Officer Debra Stiles said communities taking a stand in the form of neighborhood watch groups has made a difference in lowering crime this year.
"The Temple Terrace Neighborhood Watch helped police locate and arrest a robbery suspect on Aug. 1," she said.
Stiles said she encourages residents in her beat to get involved in organizing neighborhood watch groups. Stiles represents southeast Longview.
"National Night Out on Oct. 7 is a great way to get started with neighborhood watch," she said. "Anyone who wants to do that can contact me."
A Longview resident for 42 years, Brenda Woolridge said Tuesday that she appreciates the work of the Longview Police Department but believes there is still a lot of work to be done.
"We are concerned about the people in our neighborhoods," she said. "We don't have the cooperation from the city that we were promised and just talking doesn't do any good. We would like to see something that tells us we are important."
Woolridge said she believes the city of Longview places more emphasis on the needs of the north side of town while neglecting the south.
"South-side taxes are no different than the north-side taxes," she said.
District 3 Councilwoman Kasha Williams said cleaning up the community is a separate issue but vowed action.
"My commitment is for stricter ordinances in this community," Williams said. "We will need more enforcement of those ordinances, and you have my commitment that it will be done before Kasha Williams leaves office. It is just going to take one day at a time."
Williams said she believes the city is on the right path in its fight against crime.
"We actually have had a really good year," she said. "But we want to know what else we can do. We want to make the community a safer place and better place to live by increasing education. We will do it one day at a time, one brick at a time and one step at a time."