Police beef up riverfront security for holidays

Published 12:01 am Friday, December 7, 2007

VIDALIA — The Vidalia riverfront will be well protected during the holiday season, a police official said.

This comes in response to requests by Vidalia citizens that the town increase security on the riverfront after a recent gunpoint mugging at a nearby restaurant.

Jordan Edgarson, 22, took approximately $15 from two people after he pulled a handgun on them on the riverfront. He was apprehended a short time later.

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“We always beef up security on the riverfront,” Police Chief Billy Hammers said. “That wasn’t anything new.”

Since then — and especially because of the increased traffic on the riverfront due to the town’s riverfront light display — the police force has a reserve officer on the riverfront all night, Hammers said.

“It is watched seven days a week,” he said.

The police department also has cameras along the riverwalk, and the monitors for those cameras are wired directly into the Vidalia Police Department’s dispatcher’s office.

Vidalia resident Vickie Torrey regularly uses the riverwalk, and was one of the citizens who originally brought the issue to the attention of city officials.

Torrey said she would agree that the riverfront is an essentially safe place, but that a little more attention from law enforcement wouldn’t hurt.

“I had some concerns that I took to the mayor, and he said they would be taken care of,” she said.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said the mugging incident was, to the best of his knowledge, the first such incident that has occurred in the riverfront area, and that while it was nearby, it “was not on the riverfront.”

Though there is increased security in the riverfront area due to the city’s Christmas displays, the city is also keeping added security in the area because of the increased traffic brought in by the confrence center, Copeland said.

“You can’t watch everything every moment of the day, but the people I have talked to feel secure,” he said.