A significant drop in the crime rate reported last week by the Statesboro Police Department is good news, indeed, and a positive sign that recent efforts at increasing cooperation between local law enforcement agencies is working. Based on data compiled by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Part 1 crimes — the most serious and violent crimes — dropped 10.5 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.
Part 1 crimes include theft, simple assault, burglary, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, robbery (armed and forcible), rape and homicide. In 2014, according to Statesboro Police Cpl. Justin Samples, all robberies were down by 35 percent from the previous year, burglaries decreased by 33 percent, sexual assaults were down 18 percent, motor vehicle theft down 49 percent and all theft down cumulatively by 17 percent.
Those are some remarkable numbers that translate to the bottom line all residents really care about — Statesboro is a safer place to live, work and play.
Wendell Turner, the city’s public safety director, pointed to several factors for the dramatic decrease in crime.
“Additional police officers on the streets, newly developed partnerships, including the Statesboro-Bulloch County Crime Suppression Team, organizational improvements, and increased community programs and awareness have made a tremendous difference that is reflected in these statistics,” he said.
The Statesboro Police Department joined forces with the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office in January 2014, merging two crime suppression units to form the multi-jurisdictional Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team. Georgia Southern University Police joined this partnership in July.
Over the past several years, initiatives by the department to involve the public in much more active ways are starting to help all crime-reducing efforts. The Citizens Police Academy, the Police and Citizens Together program, or PACT, and establishing a student liaison position with Georgia Southern have opened lines of communication wider than ever before between law enforcement and the public.
Study after study shows that police departments who involve the public they serve in fighting crime and gaining the trust on the ground of key stakeholders even in high crime areas of communities helps those departments reduce crime. The commitment from the leadership in the Statesboro Police Department and from the officers on the beat to building closer community ties is working. And everyone in the department and the city should be proud of their efforts.
When Mayor Jan Moore was running in 2013 for the office she now holds, she identified fighting crime as a top campaign issue. We believe Moore has carried through on her pledge to make it a priority and her full support and high expectations of the department have, no doubt, helped in the effort to reduce crime.
However, the large majority of the credit for fewer crimes being committed in Statesboro goes to the rank and file members of the department. They do the difficult and sometimes dangerous work on the streets of making all of us safer. We salute them for their service.
With a 10-percent statistical drop in serious crime from 2013 to 2014, the bar has been set high for the next reduction. So, Statesboro PD, what about 11 percent in 2015?