Mark Scott: Community must take a stand

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On July 16, we lost another young life to gun violence in the City of Americus. On this day, group of local citizens got together and planned a cookout in the park. These were people who grew up in the neighborhood and want to give something back to the community. They grilled hamburgers and hot-dogs. The Americus Fire Department came and let the neighborhood kids see a fire truck and play under a water sprinkler. The police department kept a check on the area, and everything was going great. As the gathering was winding down and most of the original organizers had called it a day, an argument began. As is usually the case, the argument was over nothing of any importance. It’s easy to point fingers and try to lay blame, but the simple fact is that another young life, full of potential, has been snuffed out. Another young life, full of potential, will spend the majority, if not all, of his life in prison. And another family is left to grieve the loss of a beloved son.

We, as a community, must take a stand. We must teach our children that this is not normal and it is not acceptable. Respect is not something that we can put on, like a bandana of a specific color, or pick up and wave around, like a gun. Respect is something that we must freely give to each other, instill in our children, and earn through our actions. There are issues in our community that need to be addressed. Some of our issues are being addressed through different groups of people who are working together to facilitate change. There are people in our community who are willing to sacrifice their time and money to make a difference. There are people in our community who are willing to openly discuss the hard issues and even set aside their preconceptions to listen to others who have a totally different point of view. There are those of us who believe that we are right on the edge of doing something truly amazing and bringing this community together in a way that will be the envy of every other city in the state of Georgia.

Unfortunately, there are also a few members of this community who value their own interests above all else and are willing to use violence or thievery or other illegal means to get what they want. Some of these members of our community are not going to change, but I have to believe that we can make a difference in the lives of at least some, if we are willing to try. The Department of Juvenile Justice is laying the groundwork for a new mentoring program at the Sumter Youth Development Campus (YDC). The Sumter YDC provides secure care, supervision and treatment services to serious youth offenders who have been committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for long-term programs. This mentoring program is the first of its kind in the state, and if it is successful here may be implemented statewide. The key to success is volunteers.

We need men from our community who are willing to give a little of their time and share themselves with young men at the YDC who are nearing the end of their time in the facility and are getting ready to go back home to their community. They need strong positive role models. It’s not hard to be a mentor.  This program is structured and volunteer mentors will be well trained in how to work with these young men. I am challenging the men of our community to step up to the plate. We have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our youth. We have an opportunity to not just complain about the violence in our community, but to do something about it. All it takes to sign up for the program is a phone call to 770-756-9922 or an email to Make the call and make a difference.


Mark Scott is chief, Americus Police Department.