Five Points Association renews call for city to meet hospitality team goals

nophillips@thestate.comDecember 9, 2013 

The Five Points Association and six surrounding neighborhoods have endorsed a plan to improve safety in the city’s popular shopping and entertainment district.

The groups recently met to discuss ideas and decided to sign onto a five-point plan submitted earlier this year by city’s Hospitality Zone Task Force. City Council already has approved the plan, but the Five Points Association said in a news release that only two of the five goals have been addressed.

The goals are:

•  More and better signs around Five Points’ perimeter to warn people of video surveillance.

•  Formalize a multi-disciplinary Hospitality Zone Public Safety Team led by the Columbia Police Department chief. The team also should include the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the State Law Enforcement Division, and police from the University of South Carolina, Benedict College and Allen University. Those officers would focus on gangs.

•  The hospitality team also would include people from the city’s zoning office, fire marshals and business license office.

•  Increase the number of officers patrolling during late weekend hours in neighborhoods adjacent to Five Points.

•  Make the removal of gangs and guns a priority with enforcing alcohol laws a secondary concern.

•  Have regular meetings between the hospitality team, the neighborhoods and the Five Points Association to evaluate needs and keep communication lines open.

Besides renewing a push for those five goals to be met, the Five Points Association and the six neighborhoods expressed their support for Interim Police Chief Ruben Santiago and encouraged City Manager Teresa Wilson to hire him as the permanent chief.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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