Cutting crime? Citizens advise

A citizen's panel has recommended more than a dozen steps to reduce crime and hold officials in the criminal justice system more accountable.

Topping the list is a permanent advisory committee and staff position in county government to promote collaboration among local justice agencies and establish performance goals for each group. They also pushed for the district attorney's office and police departments to align priorities so they can work more efficiently.

Other ideas focused on reducing the number of chronic offenders, creating more specialty courts and increasing employee salaries.

The Justice and Public Safety Task Force will spend the coming days firming up their recommendations and present their plan to county commissioners later this fall.

Commissioners appointed the 14-member task force this summer after residents called on leaders to halt rising crime rates. Retired Superior Court Judge Shirley Fulton said she thinks the recommendations will improve the justice system, and praised her committee members.

Task force members seemed optimistic and hopeful that commissioners would support their ideas.

They'll also ask elected officials to buy into the recommendations. They got some of it Tuesday from District Attorney Peter Gilchrist, who pitched the proposal about his office working more closely with police.

“I think if we work together as a hand and a glove, there's a tremendous amount we can probably accomplish,” he told the group.