CPD Says Focus in Five Points Will Be on Violent Crimes, Not Drinking
After the Columbia Police Departments and bar and restaurant owners in Five Points butted heads repeatedly last year, the police say they are finally shifting gears and refocusing their patrols of the popular nightlife destination to prevent violent crimes like armed robbery and gang violence, rather than target underage drinkers and fake IDs.
“We’re not neglecting [underage drinking], but my focus is the violent crime that has caused fear in Five Points,” said interim chief Ruben Santiago.
At a meeting on Tuesday, August 27th, residents on the city’s revitalized hospitality zone task force made five recommendations to the Columbia Police Department to help prevent violent crimes in the Five Points area. Business owners in the hospitality district have been very concerned about a rash of violent crimes that started last year, which could deter otherwise lucrative nightlife business.
A rash of violence crimes broke out over the weekend of September 23rd, 2012, after a successful USC football game. Two separate, violent attacks took place that evening – one at 1 AM, and another shortly thereafter, around 2 AM. According to police reports, two friends bumped into “two unknown, black males” and had a verbal altercation with them that led to one of the victims being punched in the face after he tried to walk away. More male suspects joined the group, and the victim sustained severe injuries to his face, as well as a broken arm. He was hospitalized for treatment.
The second incident was similar, but has become more publicized. The male victim, Josh Bosworth, had a verbal altercation that incited “several, unknown black males” to kick and punch the victim, who was later hospitalized. He was kicked in the head and chest area, had lacerations on his face, and damage to his mouth and jaw. The attack against Bosworth was caught on a cell phone camera (video link at end of article).
That same weekend, there was also a random shooting.
The task force was created in 2010 to design a plan for enforcing laws, fire codes and zoning ordinances in the city’s entertainment districts. But it had been dormant for most of 2012. The group has mostly new members, including John Durst, president of the S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, who leads the task force and presented the plan.
Santiago cited crime statistics from Five Points last year, pointing out that crime actually dropped 14% last year, thanks to criminal procedures. Business owners argued that the crime statistics did not reflect the surge in violent crimes, armed robberies, and severe beatings.
“We’re encouraged with the numbers, but we want to make sure people feel safe,” Santiago said.
Santiago has increased the number of officers patrolling Five Points on weekends. The police wear reflective yellow vests, and walk in pairs. Rather than harass customers outside of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, the officers are focusing on potential violence.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with South Carolina Criminal Procedures
While violent crimes in 5 Points dropped recently, long-term results remain to be seen. Residents of Columbia remain both hopeful and skeptical that a solution can be found with South Carolina criminal procedures currently, so they can once again enjoy the hospitality of the city’s nightlife destination.
If you have been charged with a violent crime or assault, you could face a harsh sentence. The attorneys at Strom Law, LLC can help with criminal charges in Columbia, and can help USC students with arrests or charges. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss South Carolina Criminal Procedures the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.