An increased law enforcement presence may not always be welcome in neighborhoods like Unionville, but Bibb County Sheriff David Davis is hoping to change that.
Through a series of Safety Walks through various parts of Macon-Bibb County, Davis and his staff are looking to develop relationships with neighborhood residents.
“The reason we’re doing this is to come out here and show the neighborhood that the sheriff’s department is involved in this community,” he said. “If they have a concern, they can voice it to us, but mainly we want to show that we’re involved in this community.”
Thursday’s walk started at New Piney Grove Baptist Church at the corner of Cedar Avenue and Straight Street and went along both of those roads, Moseley Avenue and other streets in the surrounding community.
In addition to talking to adults about safety issues, officers handed out to children tote bags full of informational brochures, pencils and cups.
Jessie Smith, 88, has lived on Cedar Avenue for more than three decades and said she was pleased to see Davis and his deputies walking the streets.
“That’s good,” Smith said. “They should love that, keeps (the children) safe.”
The walk didn’t only address potential criminal activity. Davis also heard from residents about vacant lots with knee-high grass and an abandoned vehicle sitting alongside Moseley Avenue.
The sheriff scheduled the grass to be cut Friday morning and also asked that officers look into getting the car removed. Davis noted that it was important for community members who live away from the main roads to know their problems matter.
“It shows that we want to be responsive,” he said.
Davis said some communities near Ingleside Avenue, Houston Avenue and Lake Wildwood already have asked to be a part of future walks. In addition, neighborhoods like Bellevue, the site of recent shootings, also would be on the list.
“If there’s a neighborhood that we’ve had some issues ... we’re going to go there,” Davis said.
Before the group of a couple dozen deputies and staffers with Davis had even walked a city block, their presence already had been noticed. Some people stayed behind closed doors or weren’t willing to talk, but others, like 16-year-old Sheron Wyman, came out to watch or even greet the deputies.
Wyman doesn’t usually come outside much but added that seeing Davis and his staff “makes people feel safe,” he said.
“There’s a lot of bad stuff going on around here,” Wyman said. “Sometimes I don’t feel safe outside, but now I feel safe.”
To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.