A group of pastors and other Westside citizens voiced concern about recent events in their neighborhood.
Trixie Morgan, who resides on Old Cedartown Road, said she is concerned about recent criminal activity in the area.
She suggested more community policing and proposed that bicycle patrols be established on Gordon, MLK, Dever, Polk and Second streets.
“We want to help you and ask that you help us make a difference in our neighborhood,” she said.
Pastor Eric Fredrick, Calloway Circle, also asked for more police presence in the area known as Westside.
He said that not only would bicycle patrols be an asset but also walking and talking with citizens.
“We want to be a part of the solution, not the problem,” he said. “We would like to partner with the police department in crime education events. They have a wealth of information that we could use.”
Pastor Fredrick also suggested a long-term solution — opening a community center, possibly the former Elm Street School building.
“We want to see our community change and don’t want it to be filled with drug dealers and crime,” he said.
“We want our citizens to feel safe.”
Rev. Patrick O. Ivey, Elm Street, Rockmart, also sought a way to prevent crime and get more police presence in neighborhoods.
“If a life is lost it does not affect one demographic or age group, it affects everyone in the community,” he said. “Today’s youth deserves the same opportunities we enjoyed. If the citizens don’t see police unless something happens, it means we are being reactive and not proactive.
“As pastors, it is our job to partner with you to resolve these issues. This we are willing to do. The truth is that people are often uncomfortable talking to someone in a policeman’s uniform. We can’t fix a problem if we don’t know what it is. We are asking you as community leaders, police officers and elected officials to be willing to work with us.
“It is time we come together to find a solution.”
Councilman James Payne, who said he worked with the Georgia Department of Corrections for more than 22 years, agreed that changes come only after people meet and talk about problems.
“We need to continue this conversation and I am willing to do that,” he said.
Lucille Harris, council member, asked that a meeting be set up with Police Chief Keith Sorrells to discuss citizen concerns.
“We all have an opportunity to work together, not just in Westside but throughout Rockmart,” she said.
Mayor Steve Miller directed James Payne, chairman, and Rick Stone, Public Safety Committee, to work with Chief Sorrells in finding solutions.
He said that areas that border Rockmart are covered by the Polk County Police Department. “We need all our law enforcement agencies working together to addressed these problems,” he said.
Chief Sorrells said there is a police presence in all of Rockmart’s neighborhoods.
“I am willing to meet and discuss issues and concerns of our citizens,” he said. “We have always welcomed people to be our eyes and ears in reporting crime. However, we need to be careful when dealing with public safety. It is the duty and responsibility of trained personnel to enforce the law.”
Mayor Miller also reminded that the old Elm Street building is owned by Polk School District and is for sale.
“I am sure they would welcome interest in its purchase, but we (Rockmart) do not have the funds,” he said.