Concerned residents ask for help from city commissioners in response to recent gun violence

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Concerned residents are asking for the city’s help in response to recent gun violence in their neighborhood, they spoke out at Tuesday’s city commission meeting with the hope something could be done.

Stephanie Thomas along with four other residents from the ‘Ford Country’ neighborhood believe recent shootings that occurred so close to home are due to a bigger issue. People leaving their homes, renting them out, and not doing a thorough renter history check.

“We think a lot of our problems arise from the fact as and the screening process is not, they are not screening their applicants carefully,” Thomas said.

Thomas has lived in the neighborhood since the early 90s and never expected in the 30 years of living in her cottage-like home of being so close to constant gunfire.

“Just rapid gunfire, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Thomas said. “It took me a while to register and immediately I ran for the bathroom hallway, and after talking to my neighbors they did the same thing, I am 60 years old. I shouldn’t be running from gunfire.”

She and other residents believe recent violence is due to homeowners not being more strict on some current renters moving into their neighborhood. Residents are just desperate for some type of help.

“It’s called community pride, and community respect,” Thomas said. “It’s respect, respect us enough to understand how we live.”

The goal is not to get anyone kicked out of their house, but rather have the homeowners more responsible for their properties and the renters they place to live in them.

“The number of people the are out there that are renting and want to have the ability to rent are blending in neighborhoods that have not traditionally had to deal with that issue before,” Mayor Mark Saliba said.

At this particular time, the City of Dothan does not have a renters ordinance or policy in place but the Mayor said this may be something that needs to be looked at in the near future. He said landlords simply put in place an agreement with the person who plans to rent…

“A city can’t solve all of those issues it needs to be something that the city along with the community and neighborhoods need to do together,” Mayor Saliba said.

This is why he says city programs like “Love Your Neighborhood” were set up, to help combat these issues.

Thomas tells WDHN News she loves the place she calls home and can’t wait for the day she can walk in her neighborhood once again and feel safe doing so.

“As a homeowner, you should care,” Thomas said, “These folks, they lived here, and they know how quiet it was, and they moved to neighborhoods where this is not happening, but you put us in this position.”

Thomas and Saliba agree the community and city are going to have to work together to bring an end to the violence that has been happening not only in this particular neighborhood but elsewhere in Dothan as well.

This means working together, whether through a possible city renter’s ordinance in the future or neighborhood growth programs that exist right now such as block watch or homeowners associations.

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