Archived Story

Columbus business owners say there’s too much policing

Published 3:54pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chief: force saving lives, reducing accidents

Columbus Town Council heard strong concerns from a couple last week that the town’s police department is over the top.

Council met Thursday, Feb. 21 and heard from David and Brenda Searcy who said an article in the Bulletin that day reported Columbus was beating out 1,000 other departments in the state.

David Searcy, who said he’s been a Columbus business owner for about 30 years, said Columbus officers are everywhere, saying they are seen at the top of the Saluda grade and out of state. He said Columbus officers “seem to be everywhere.”

“As a business owner I don’t like it,” David Searcy said. “I’m ready to close up shop and leave town. They are stopping people when they don’t need to be.”

David Searcy continued to say officers don’t give warnings and once someone is in court they don’t have a chance because it’s all about money.

“I don’t feel like I’m proud to be in Columbus anymore,” said David Searcy.

Columbus Police Chief Chris Beddingfield addressed the concerns and said, “it’s not popular when you enforce the law.”

He told council and the public that anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly or unprofessionally should contact the police department and file a complaint. People also have recourse through the court system, he said.

Beddingfield said his officers give many warning tickets and the enforcement has cut down on accidents dramatically.

  • RuthiePerez

    I have nothing against the Police Force but In our county specially in the town of Columbus we have to many cops doing nothing but waiting to get someone for the littlest excuse. I have many friends that don’t come to Columbus because of the cops, they are really killing the Restaurant business in town, not just that; tourist don’t come because of that, and I’m sorry but the Chief of Police is lying when he says we can go and put a complaint that is even worse I know that from my own experience that is a NO, NO!
    They are arrogant! They don’t have any intention in being There is very few that are modest, but most of them would stop their mom for a speeding ticket. Wake up stop harassing us not every one is a criminal like the Columbus Police assumes!

  • chefrivers

    This is not article is not about speeding its about Columbus police harassing citizens that frequent that small town. CPD has to many cops and nothing to do! Its us paying their salary and they turn around to torment us with their policies? They dont work hard to keep the public safe since there is very limited crime in small towns. Keep it us CPD so Columbus can be a ghost town!

  • countrygirl9912

    I am proud of the Columbus PD officers. They work hard to keep the public and the businesses as safe as possible. It might not make me happy to swallow my pride and accept responsibly for my speeding through town but it was my mistake to correct. The officers work a thankless job and I am glad to see that Chief Beddingfield and the city administration has a backbone to back this department through the complaints.

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  • polkliberty101

    It’s good to see some checks and balances with people speaking out against what is viewed as intimidating police behaviors
    I have seen Columbus police involved in checkpoints outside of their jurisdiction also.
    The Police chief says if your not doing anything wrong you don’t have anything to worry about. In other words guilty until proven innocent so just shut up and show me your papers!
    There are laws restricting the scope of police checkpoints which we all suffer from regularly in Polk county. They have to operate under written plans that have restrictions. Check out GS20-16.3a . Also look up case State vs Rose as to whether general crime fighting is legal and within the scope of traffic enforcement checkpoints.

  • fallingman

    Thanks to the Searcys for having the courage to tell the truth and stand up to the police.

    Couple of points: In my limited interactions with the Columbus police and via heresay, they ARE polite and professional in their demeanor. What’s not professional or fair is the POLICY of ticketing people who aren’t causing a problem and ignoring people on their phones, people texting, and people generally not paying attention or creating dangerous situation.

    And I’m sure they ARE concerned with safety. That said, they’re really concerned with money. Those concerns don’t have to me mutually exclusive.

    Columbus is a faceless little town with a hyperactive police force. They’d be well served to focus on crime prevention and far less on harassment of drivers.

    More Andy Taylor and less Barney Fife please.

    • Gamble852

      I can say that the CPD does a great job of keeping our streets safe. Every officer of CPD are polite and takes their job seriously. To me a speeding ticket is a warning. The ticket is trying to correct what you have done wrong and prevent the loss of life. If you do not like seeing the police pulling over people who are doing wrong here in Columbus then maybe it is time that you packed your bags. And ticketing people who are not causing a problem? I’m pretty sure you cant just ticket someone for not doing anything wrong. You have to have a reason for ticketing people.

      • polkliberty101

        I’m glad people are finding interest here. I’m glad if I am in need I can dial 911 and somebody answers, believe me.
        Why should somebody move if they have a complaint about something? That is a classic way of debating though it seems, if you don’t like it just leave etc. maybe these people are not the only ones to have that opinion. Should they just move to Landrum? 25 mph through Columbus is very sensible, and safe, I don’t think many would disagree so please don’t speed. Some don’t like the idea that there is somebody around the corner waiting to ambush you when you might be making a reasonable mistake and a lot if people find heavy policing intimidating and a threat to their pursuit of happiness. If that is necessary, maybe we should have cameras installed in our cars and homes to protect us from ourselves. After all “if you aren’t doing anything wrong…..”

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