Law enforcement officials took to the streets en masse Friday night in hopes of cracking down on crime throughout the city.
Some residents welcomed the increased police presence, while others felt officers were harassing residents more than helping.
Macon police, with the assistance of Georgia State Patrol and a unit from Byron, swept through neighborhoods and performed road checks in an effort they called a “violent crime suppression detail.”
Final arrest numbers had not been compiled as of Saturday and totals won’t be available until later this week, said police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet.
The joint detail was to concentrate on specific areas to increase police presence and to deter violent crime, Gaudet said in a news release. All suspicious people and situations were to be investigated and appropriate actions taken.
“We are searching for the worst of the worst -- violent criminals who threaten the safety of our community,” Police Chief Mike Burns said, according to the release.
Bobby Saulsberry said he witnessed at least four squad cars line up to stop a single car in front of his Montpelier Avenue home.
“I’m sure that little old lady was terrified,” he said of the woman in the car stopped by police. “While you have six officers over here for a traffic stop, a real crime is happening down the street.”
Precautionary measures are fine, Saulsberry said, but he felt the operation was a bit overboard.
“It’s sad when you have to be afraid to drive to the store because you might get pulled over,” said Itley White, as he got his hair cut by Saulsberry on Saturday.
Mary Sanders didn’t notice an increased police presence in her Unionville neighborhood Friday, but said officers frequent the area and she welcomes more even patrols.
“It’s right for them to do that,” she said. “When they (patrol) more often it might keep people from doing things.”
The operation, which ended at 2 a.m., involved two phases -- “swarm and saturate” violent crime hotspots, and road checks and DUI enforcement. Along with squad cars, the operation included the use of a Georgia State Patrol helicopter, transport vans, mobile intoxilizer and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety mobile detention trailer.
Johnny Hollingshed Jr., who lives in south Macon, said he hopes city officials will follow-up on these sweeps with installing more street lights in neighborhoods.
“That is a deterrent,” he said. “People like to do dirt in the dark.”
He said it sounds like a simple solution, but it would be an effective one, and he has discussed the issue with city officials in the past.
“I know it can be different, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” he said of the crime. “I’d rather my senior citizen neighbors be able to sit out on their porch, even if it is nighttime.”
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.