Could an increased police presence have prevented the October 13th shooting in Columbia's Five Points where University of South Carolina student Martha Childress was struck by a stray bullet as she waited for a taxi?
Police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons says more than 10 officers were still on patrol at 2:30 that morning when they heard gunshots and ran to the scene.
She says the department typically increases the number of patrol officers on weekends with football games or other events likely to bring in bigger crowds.
“You could have anywhere – and I'm just throwing some numbers out – anywhere between 30, 50 or more officers on patrol,” Timmons says. “So we believe that we're well-equipped in those areas. Certainly would be nice to have additional officers, but that means hiring more, being able to pay them.”
Timmons says discussions are underway with the Richland County Sheriff's Department and State Law Enforcement Division about possibly getting some outside help.
She says other options to heighten safety include controlling access similar to what's done for special events like the St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Some have also suggested a more aggressive stop-and-frisk policy, but Timmons cautions, “We have to be careful that we follow the letter of the law. We cannot stop and frisk every single person in Five Points. There has to be a reasonable suspicion of why we're stopping...why we're actually detaining these individuals and searching them. We do not want to violate civil rights.”