COLUMBUS (WCMH)–A Columbus Police sergeant is working to building trust and relationships with teens to help curb violence in the neighborhoods.
“It’s very near and dear to my heart growing up in a very similar situation that a lot of these kids out here are growing up in,” says Sgt. James Fuqua.
He grew up on the south side of Columbus and has been on the police force now for almost 12 years. Besides his duties on patrol on the east side of the city, he’s also a diversity inclusion liaison.
“Being from the area and knowing how things work I feel it’s my responsibility, not only as an officer, but as a citizen of Columbus to get out here and help the young people better themselves,” says Sgt. Fuqua.
He’s working on mending the disconnect between the community and police by encouraging his officers to get out of their squad cars and get to know the people in the neighborhoods they patrol.
“One of the main things we’ve been focusing on lately is creating an atmosphere where the teens can feel comfortable coming to us and trusting us,” say Sgt. Fuqua.
This is all happening while violent youth crime is on the rise in Columbus.
“I think a lot of our teenagers today don’t understand the seriousness behind the guns,” says South Linden Commission Chair George Walker Jr.
Three teens were shot in South Linden on Friday, walking home from a high school football game.
“If we can reach the teens now can it eliminate a lot of the violence as well as groom them into young men and women that can be functional people in society,” says Sgt. Fuqua.
He says there’s more community outreach programs coming, especially for young adults. Sgt. Fuqua says they are working behind the scenes to create some kind of athletic program for police and teens.
Already, neighbors on the east side say they are noticing a change after seeing officers out and about more often. A driver stopped their car to thank Sgt. Fuqua for their presence in the area over the last month.
Columbus Police will be hosting community meetings, where citizens can meet face-to-face with officers and have a discussion about finding solutions to problems in their neighborhoods. Lunch will be provided for the round-table discussions. They’re all from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
– Tuesday, Sept. 17th, Glenwood Rec Center (1888 Fairmont Ave.)
– Tuesday, Oct. 25th, Barnett Rec Center (1184 Barnett Rd.)
– Thursday, Nov. 17th, Driving Park Rec (1100 Rhoads Ave.)