"We can't let these criminals run our lives...having a safe city for our community to work, love, and play is essential to our prosperity."
These were the words of Douglas Mayor James Dennis Friday afternoon as he addressed members of the press following a week filled with highly publicized arsons, armed robberies, and the shooting of a Douglas police officer.
"My duty as mayor and as a Douglas citizen is to ensure, at the best of my ability, a safe community," Dennis stated. "I am eager to assist the Douglas police and fire departments in any necessary manner to help bring justice to those who commit crimes that harm the citizens of our city."
Dennis stressed his belief that proactive policing of the city by both law enforcement agencies and citizens alike is the primary key to preventing crime before it occurs. Douglas city commissioners took a first step in this direction on Thursday, authorizing police chief Gary Casteloes to utilize six off-duty Coffee County Sheriff's Office deputies to help boost the number of police officers patrolling the city.
Mayor Dennis also urged citizens to get involved by practicing preventative measures to protect themselves against crimes and also to contact authorities with any concerns or suspicions, especially should they have personal knowledge of a crime.
"Make it hard for these criminals to steal or destroy your property (and) don't be a target of opportunity," he said. "I urge all our citizens to remain calm and vigilant as our investigators continue to work these cases and follow-up on leads. We are a close knit community so we must protect one another. We cannot allow our community to be a target for these senseless crimes."
The City of Douglas operates a phone number citizens may call to report criminal suspicions anonymously, (912) 260-3600. Additionally, a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered by the Georgia Arson Control Board for information leading to the conviction of anyone involved in the recent string of arsons in Douglas. They can be reached at 1(800) 282-5804.