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Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 1:31pm

Soldiers Begin Patrols in Columbus

Soldiers from Fort Benning will begin patrolling the bar district in Columbus Thursday night.

George Steuber, deputy garrison commander at Fort Benning, says the military base will send courtesy patrols to the city on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The patrols are in response to a request by Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Police Chief Ricky Boren asking for help from the post. The request was made after five soldiers were accused of attacking a man in downtown Columbus.

The mayor says the senior non-commissioned officers will be in uniform and will have arm bands identifying them as courtesy patrols.

The courtesy patrols will be unarmed and will have no police authority, but will be able to summon military and civilian police if the need arises.

Skip Henderson, a Columbus City councilman, said the patrols have been useful in the past for both soldiers and non-military visitors to Uptown Columbus.

He said the presence of uniformed officers on patrol will act as a “deterrent” to anyone who may get carried away during a night on the town.

“When I’m driving down the highway, and I might be a mile or two over the speed limit, if I see a uniformed officer in a police car, I slow down,” Henderson said with a chuckle. “And I think it will have the same impact on some of these young folks. The soldiers are good young men, miles from home doing a tough job. And I think sometimes they get a little too exuberant celebrating a rare stint of freedom.”

He said disturbances are rare in Columbus but both military and non-military have been involved.

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