Augusta stores escape probation but commissioners are not done yet

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta leaders have concerns about crime at Smart Grocery on Wrighsboro Road, but what to do about it.

“They’ve already lost money. They’ve lost a lot of business because of it. I don’t want to close anybody down if you don’t have to,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.

On Tuesday, commissioners wrestled with whether to put the store and another on Olive Road on probation due to complaints about the growing crime.

“They already had 1,900 hundred calls, and you had some homicides that happened at different locations. So again, we don’t want to shut down business, but there is an accountability and safety piece that we owe to the people of Richmond County,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

Commissioners put Club Rain on 6-month probation for a fatal shooting outside the club in January, and the Sheriff’s Office recommended a one year’s suspension of its license.

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Commissioners did not approve putting the grocery stores on probation after owners said they hired security and would reduce hours.

‘Is it the responsibility of the business owner to fight the crime that is outside his establishment?” asked Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

“If we shut down every business that’s in Augusta that crime happens to happen at, then we won’t have any businesses in the CSRA,” said Commissioner Tony Lewis.

But city leaders say the probation issue is not over.

“I don’t think it’s a dead issue. I think it will be back in two weeks. I think we’ll get to the solution of probation,” said Frantom.

“Crime is not walking out of that store. It’s what is around there. That is where we need our Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on board.” said Commissioner McKnight.

For weeks, city leaders have talked crime at businesses, and that discussion looks to be continuing.

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