By Tia Lynn Ivey
Local citizens are asking The City of Madison to increase police presence in Morgan Circle, a public housing neighborhood that recently suffered a murder on the street.
Pastor Lonnie Brown appeared before the Madison Mayor and City Council on Monday evening, along with other local citizens, to implore officials to follow through with previous discussions regarding more police in Morgan Circle.
“We are here to ask you all if anything has been decided about this,” said Brown to the council Monday evening.
The council discussed the matter at December’s meeting on the heels of a cold-blooded murder committed the night before Thanksgiving. A tragic shooting during an armed robbery claimed the life of a Kentrell Jones, 23. The robbery yielded just $50. Dontearious Burke, a teenager, has been charged and indicted for the murder and armed robbery.
Brown asked the council if anything would be done to enhance safety in the neighborhood by way of police presence.
Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn reported to the council that after reviewing a year’s worth of 911 calls in Madison, calls to Morgan Circle represented less than one half of one percent. He also noted that calls to Morgan Circle have decreased in recent years.
“I just don’t see how we could justify stationing a full-time police officer just in Morgan Circle,” said Ashburn. “The department is short two police officers as it is.”
While both Ashburn and City Manager David Nunn could not guarantee a special position for an officer to be stationed in Morgan Circle, Ashburn pledged to increase patrolling units in the area.
“The shooting could have happened anywhere in Madison, but that’s where these two people met up and it took place,” said Ashburn. “But I assure you we are beefing up our patrol, we are spending more time there and we will be diligent about it.”
Brown noted that while the emergency calls may have decreased in recent years, the calls that do come in could be more serious than in other areas of the city.
“Aren’t they more serious calls?” asked Brown.
Ashburn conceded some calls are more serious but still maintained the recent murder was an isolated incident in which neither the victim nor the perpetrator even lived in Morgan Circle.
Nunn agreed to speak with the housing authority in Monroe, the umbrella organization for Madison’s Housing Authority, to inquire if the group would hire an officer or security guard.
City Planner Monica Callahan noted at last month’s meeting that the housing authority has pledged in the past to provide some funding for police/security officers to be stationed in public housing neighborhoods.
Brown agreed to sit down with Ashburn and Nunn this week to discuss the matter further as the city further review options.