By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Despite officer shortage, SPD made more arrests in 2023
Broadhead: Violent crime rates fairly steady, drop in reported rapes could mean many go unreported
Chief of Police Mike Broadhead talks to City Council members and the mayor, out of view to the left, and City Manager Charles Penny, foreground, about crime rates and other statistics in the Statesboro Police Department's 2023 Annual Report. - photo by AL HACKLE/Staff

Considering the Statesboro Police Department’s continued shortage of officers, the department did well to yield an increased number of arrests and citations in 2023, Chief of Police Mike Broadhead told the mayor and council.

The number of homicides inside the city limits, four, was up from three the previous year but did not return to the peak of nine homicides – killings of people by other people but not all necessarily murders – reported in Statesboro during the 2020 pandemic year. Some other violent crimes, namely robberies and aggravated assaults, increased in 2023 after a previous drop. And a drop in the number of reported rapes may not be such a good thing as it appears at first glance, he said.

Broadhead delivered the SPD’s 2023 Annual Report, with a summary slideshow, to the elected officials during a work session Feb. 20.

“Last year we handled a little over 43,000 calls for service,” he said. “Citations were up, warnings were up, crashes were down and arrests were up. One reason I’m particularly proud of the fact that citations and arrests (were up) – it’s not that it’s just all about enforcement – we spent most of last year between 25 and 30 percent short on staffing, operationally.”

Last fall, the Statesboro Police Department reported a 17-officer shortage in its budgeted force of 79 officer positions. Broadhead said at the time that the “operational” shortage was greater because the roster included several officers on medical leave and a few recruits still at the academy or in field training.

After first authorizing new signing and recruitment bonuses for police officers in October, City Council members agreed to make police and firefighter raises the keystone a new pay plan. The plan, outlined by consultants, approved by the council in December and effective in January, included raises for all departments. Already the city’s highest-paid department in salaries for lower-rank personnel, the SPD saw its starting pay for certified officers rise from the previous $45,802 to $55,477.


Staffing improving

“I’m really happy to report that today things are looking better,” Broadhead told the council last week. “We were at one point last year 18 positions short, meaning not on the roster. Today we’re 11 short on the roster.”

Still, the operationally effective staffing remains lower than the “roster” count, with two officers in field training, three at the academy, four hired but awaiting their time at the academy, one on military deployment and two recovering from accidents or illness.

“We’re seeing a lot more applicants, and a lot more better applicants, and so we’re going to turn that around,” he told the council “As I’ve talked about before, we didn’t get there overnight. It took us about three years to dig the hole, and so it will take us a while to get back, but we won’t take three years to get back.”


Violent crime in 2023

More of some kinds of violent crimes occurred in 2023 than the previous year, but the numbers remained relatively consistent with longer-term trends, Broadhead observed. He suggested that holding the crime numbers roughly steady is a kind of success as population density grows.

“This number is not as bad, it’s sort of a straight line for the last five or six years, but our population hasn’t remained the same in those five or six years,” he said.

An online source,, ranks Statesboro, with an estimated 36,497 residents, as Georgia’s 33rd largest city in 2024, after a recent annual growth rate of 3.03%. However, the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Quick Facts” site as of Feb. 23 still shows Statesboro’s population as 34,353, the bureau’s July 1, 2022 estimate, and indicates that a July 2023 estimate at the city level remains “NA” for “not available.”

“With that population there’s going to be more people in a smaller space,” Broadhead said, noting that this often results in higher crime rates.

The recent peak number of nine homicides in Statesboro in 2020 did not become “the new normal,” which he had publicly hoped at the time that it would not, he noted. From 2012 through 2019, Statesboro had from one to four homicides reported annually, with an average of 2.4 a year. After the nine killings in 2021, there were three in 2022 and then the four last year.

As seen in this 12-year graph, the number of violent crimes reported in Statesboro fluctuates. After a sharp drop in 2022, robberies and aggravated assault/battery crimes, represented by the top two lines, rebounded to more historically typical rates in 2023. The bottom, blue, line represents the number of homicides. The orange line, second from bottom, shows the number of rapes reported annually to Statesboro police.

But the number of battery and aggravated assault incidents reported, in the range of 57 to 65 each year from 2017 through 2021, had dropped sharply to 36 in 2022 before picking back up to 61 such crimes in 2023. Broadhead acknowledged that police have no good explanation for the sudden 2022 dip, which appeared as a near stoppage in reported violent incidents from August to December of that year.

“I wish we could take credit for it, but it’s just one of those things that happen,” he said.

After the number of robberies reported annually in Statesboro peaked with a total of 50 back in 2017, the incidence declined some most years, to 25 robberies in 2021, and then fell with the 2022 plunge in other violent crime, so that there were 12 robberies in town that year. But the number of robberies also rose again, to 24 last year.

“What we had last year were a number of pizza rip-offs,” Broadhead said. “They would order pizza to a parking lot, the guy would show up with the pizza, and they’d snatch it and run, and we had to count it as a robbery.”

But what people think of as typical armed robberies, such as “convenience store stick-ups,” are rare here, he noted.

“Most of our robberies that are violent are drug-related rip-offs, people stealing people’s drugs and guns,” he said.


Fewer reported rapes

Reports of rapes in Statesboro, or specifically those reported to the Statesboro Police Department, had increased from 12 in 2019 to 16 in 2020 and 25 in 2021 before dropping to 14 in 2022 and six in 2023.

“We see that rape has taken a dive, which is great except we know that those are reported rapes and that probably 90 percent of legitimate rapes are not reported to us, so that number is going to vary year by year,” Broadhead said.

Mayor Jonathan McCollar expressed concern about the “big drop off” and asked whether “social infrastructure” is in place to make young women in particular feel safe in reporting sexual assault.

Police may need to look into this from victim impact surveys, Broadhead suggested. But he said the Teal House is “a great partner” with the police and does “a great job working with victims.”

“One thing we’re seeing that might be attributable to a decline is that the law changed a few years ago so that women particularly that are victims of sexual assault, they can go get a sexual assault kit done, meaning the evidence can be collected, they don’t have to report it to the police,” he added.

Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse or assault or has knowledge of any such incident is advised to call 911 or contact The Teal House, Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center, located at 209 S. College St., Statesboro, GA 30458. The phone number is (912) 489-6060, and the website is The 24-Hour Crisis Line is (866) 489-2225.


Calls, arrests & crashes

The Police Department’s 43,777 “calls for service” in 2023 included all types of requests for service, responses and actions logged by the police, whether answering actual calls from citizens or initiated by the department. This was up from 41,897 “calls” in 2022 and 39,521 in 2021.

The total number of actual police reports filed last year, 4,895, was up 6% from the 4,622 filed in 2022, but less than the 4,961 reports in 2021.

In 2023, SPD officers made 1,441 arrests, an 11% increase from the 1,295 arrests made in 2022, and still trending up from 1,195 arrests in 2021. Last year’s 4,247 citations issued were 16% more than the previous year’s 3,664 citations. In 2021 there had been 3,901 citations.

Warnings given were up a full 30% in a single year, with 5,657 in 2023, from 4,349 in 2022, and after 3,522 warnings were given in 2021.

The number of accidents of all types investigated by police, 1,924 back in 2021, rose to 1,973 in 2022 but then fell by 12%, with 1,738 accidents reported last year.

All of Statesboro’s five worst intersections for wrecks were on “the bypass,” Veterans Memorial Parkway, in 2023, with 145 crashes at the Fair Road intersection, 68 at Northside Drive East, 66 at Lanier Drive, 49 at Brannen Street and 40 on South Main Street at the parkway intersection.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter