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Mark Scott: Thank you, community, for your support

I would like to thank the people of Americus and Sumter County for their support over the past two months. We have had to face the unthinkable and we will have to deal with our grief and pain from this point forward. I want to again take a moment to thank this awesome community for the support you have shown to our officers and to Nick and Jody’s families. This tragedy has brought our community together, and together we will continue to work on the issues facing us.
Although overall criminal activity for 2016 was down slightly from 2015, there was a marked increase in the number of violent crimes reported. The majority of our violent crime stemmed from domestic disputes. The Americus Police Department answered 4,441 domestic dispute calls in 2016. This is by far the most common call for service that we receive and by far the most dangerous. All six of the people murdered in Americus in 2016 were killed as a result of a domestic dispute, including Nick Smarr and Jody Smith, who died attempting to arrest a suspect from a domestic dispute.
Our primary goal for 2017 is to reduce violent crime in the City of Americus. As Jody’s mom, Sharron, has said on many occasions, not one more mother should have to lose her child to violence. Not one more. This is a community-wide problem that requires a community-wide solution. We must start by teaching our children that violence is not the answer. There is a better way to solve our disagreements than by hitting, cutting, or shooting. We must also hold each other accountable for the consequences of our actions. Members of our community who choose to commit violent crimes must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is a place for community-based corrections programs. I strongly believe that first-time non-violent offenders should be given every opportunity to turn away from criminal behavior and be productive members of our society. Violent offenders, however, are a different story.
Violent offenders, particularly those with a history of arrests for violent crime, must be held accountable. Armed robbers, rapists, and those who commit felony assaults need to go to prison. The community must hold law enforcement accountable for thoroughly investigating violent crime and building strong cases against violent criminals. We must then hold our court system accountable for prosecuting these cases and sentencing violent criminals to stiff penalties.
The Americus Police Department will be working with all of our criminal justice partners this year to address violent crime. There are people in our community who have been avoiding arrest on warrants for violent offenses. We will find them and we will bring them to justice. We will honor those who have lost their lives by making Americus the safest city in the State of Georgia. We will not forget.

Mark Scott is chief of the Americus Police Department.