The city council voted Tuesday to terminate two public works employees for allegedly fighting while on the clock.
At the end of the Tuesday’s meeting, the council went into executive session to discuss two personnel matters. After the session, City Attorney Jeff Turnage announced two public works employees had been terminated for “misconduct.”
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Dispatch the two employees got into a fight with each other “within the last couple of weeks.” The sources, who spoke anonymously since the issue was a personnel matter discussed in closed session, did not provide the former employees’ names or say exactly when the fight occurred.
Tuesday was also the first city council meeting Mayor Robert Smith attended since he was briefly hospitalized on Feb. 21 for an undisclosed medical condition.
In other business, Columbus Police Department plans to begin publicizing a police blotter today, Chief Fred Shelton told the council at the meeting.
Shelton previously said CPD would implement a crime data-collecting system breaking down the number of crimes, type of crimes and their location and frequency on a map of the city. Shelton worked with James Westby, a local business analyst who also serves on the community Crime Prevention Task Force, which Mayor Robert Smith set up with District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks, to design the blotter.
Shelton said the data will be used not only to let citizens know when and where crimes are occurring in the city but to compile data for CPD to provide to the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, which earlier this year offered to work with local law enforcement to address particular crime issues, like drive-by shootings or drug sales.
Shelton said MOHS can provide particular technology or send agents from departments like Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or Drug Enforcement Agency, depending on what kind of data CPD provides.
“If we’ve got a lot of weapons calls, with all these shots fired, then we’ll need (ATF’s) expertise about firearms, so they can come and help us do a better job,” he told The Dispatch after Tuesday’s meeting.
The data will also show problem areas in the city, he said.
“(For example) if I’ve had five calls of shoplifting at Walmart, then I probably should increase my officer patrol in that area,” he said.
He and Westby showed the council the blotter, which allows users to search for categories of crime, date, time and other factors to look at criminal activity in the city. So far, Westby said, the map has recorded 131 “incidents” which police responded to within city limits in the month of March.
As an example, he showed the council how to pull up calls about weapons discharges, which he said
were the “lead” crime incidents reported in March. The map showed approximately where the weapons discharges occurred and what time of day, with blue circles on the map demonstrating calls that occurred between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., and orange circles indicating discharges between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
“We have additional metrics … based off date, time and further, deeper knowledge that’s more for the chief to work on for his team,” Westby said.
“As we get more data, we can build onto it,” he added. “Right now, we currently just have one month’s worth of data. I’ll put more on there. We can also take anything else from 911 calls — we can put that in there — the more information the better. This particular system is very, very, robust, and we can build out, make it
according to whatever we need to identify trending (criminal activity). We can look year over year if we have that.”