AUGUSTA — City councilors and law enforcement will join forces Thursday to host a forum aimed at engaging the public in a crackdown on crime.

The open forum, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chambers, is being held to talk about crime trends and develop ways to improve prevention efforts, said Councilor Derek Grant.

“In talking with many neighbors and residents around Augusta, there is a growing concern with the recent increase in criminal activity in our area,” Grant said. “Whether it is a sign of the economic times or just a fact of life, it does not mean we have to accept it.”

Mayor William Stokes, whose home was burglarized about six years ago, said one of his neighbors was burglarized within the past few months.

“Prescription drug abuse, in my view, has a lot to do with the crime trends we’re seeing,” Stokes said. “Property related crimes are trending upwards.”

Councilors held an information session a couple months ago examining prescription drug abuse and its impact on crime, Stokes said. Grant asked the council to organize a forum aimed at educating the public on how they can help.

“We thought this forum would be an opportunity for people to come out and express some of their concerns, talk about what police are doing and what they can do to help,” Stokes said.

Augusta Police Chief Robert Gregoire said there are things people can do, most notably by paying attention to unusual vehicles or people in their neighborhoods and calling police when they notice suspicious activity. It’s all about being vigilant, he said.

Gregoire explained what he calls the crime triangle, which includes the offender, the location and the target. Offenders can only be arrested after they commit a crime, but there are ways to make a location and target less appealing. Simply opening up landscaping, thus eliminating places for burglars to hide while searching for a house to break into, and locking doors, can act as deterrents to criminals, Gregoire said.

“If we can work on any of those three sides of the triangle, we can reduce crime,” Gregoire said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]


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