DENMARK — During the month of September, Denmark City Council, in two separate meetings, discussed concerns about an understaffed police department and the City of Denmark not being fully protected from criminals.

According to T&D reports, a man was found dead and shot in his car in Denmark on Wednesday, Sept. 28. This occurred a little over a week after the second meeting Denmark City Council had on crime and lack of police protection.

Denmark also had at least two documented shootings with injuries toward the end of August and in the second week of September.

Councilwoman Hope Long Weldon, in a special meeting held on Sept. 6, said the City of Denmark does not have a fully staffed police department and that she is concerned about the city not being protected.

Councilwoman Rosa James, in the regular council meeting held on Sept. 19, said, “There are citizens (potential criminals) wearing ski masks in the city, and it is time for action.”

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“Some citizens are frightened,” Councilman Calvin Odom said in the regular meeting. Odom said in the special meeting earlier in the month, “I recommend a citizen meeting on law enforcement.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jake Bookard said, continuing in the special meeting, “Parents, churches, and schools all play a role in decreasing crime.”

Mayor Dr. Gerald Wright mentioned that the city works with finite resources. He did not specify if he intended the resources to be financial or human.

As per finances, previous articles in The T&D have pointed out that the city has an overall total budget of $3 million and received $700,000 in American Rescue Act funds.

Wright said in the special meeting, “We have done an amazing job with limited resources.” He said, however, “I recognize that an additional study needs to be done.”

Wright said he would develop a scheduled time when committees could address council members’ concerns.

All members of council were in attendance with Wright at the special meeting on Sept. 6, as was City Administrator Heyward Robinson. According to the roll from the minutes, absent from the special meeting were Chief Leroy Grimes of the Denmark Police Department. Also absent were any officers from the department.

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Grimes did attend the regular council meeting on Sept. 19, however. Mayor Wright did not attend but had recent bereavement.

City Administrator Robinson, during his report, expressed condolences on the passing of Mayor Wright’s sister, former mayor of Denmark, the late Elona Carolyn Davis.

Mayor Pro Tem Bookard attended in Wright’s absence in the regular council meeting on Sept. 19, and the discussion continued about the lack of officers in the city and issues related to crime.

Within that meeting, Grimes said, “The city has eight police officers. Times have changed, and I agree that more officers are needed.”

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“Police departments are having problems keeping officers. It may be necessary to increase the pay to $45,000-50,000 a year to keep certified officers,” Grimes added.

Bookard said, “Taxes will have to be increased in order to give officers more pay.”

Odom said they should have a citizens’ meeting to address law enforcement.

Grimes next gave an example of the problems law enforcement faces with the community.

“Some employees at the Enmark Gas Station allow citizens to sit outside of the store, and, on other shifts, they want the police to ask the citizens not to sit outside of the store. We cannot do selective policing depending on the shift,” Grimes said.

Weldon said, in the city, there is “insecurity felt by citizens.” Councilwoman Bervay Carter suggested that Grimes prepare a list of things that citizens can do to ensure their safety.

Grimes said, “The community is dragging, and the police are being blamed for everything. We can only do so much.”

Odom reaffirmed that a community meeting is needed. No date or time for a potential community meeting was given during the regular council meeting.

Grimes ended during this portion of the regular council meeting, “Burglaries have decreased in town, but guns have increased. Also, parents are not doing what they need to do.”

For more information on any community meetings, call Denmark City Hall at 803-793-3734.

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