News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, October 15, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Richmond County's murder rate is down, and people say they can tell a difference.
"I see a big difference, a very big difference," homeowner Laconia Howard said.
Howard lives in Barton Village, a neighborhood that's seen its share of crime in years past, but she says this year has been unlike any other in a good way.
"Now there's more patrol officers, the crime has slacked up, and it's wonderful," Howard said smiling. "You can actually come out and sit on your porch. At one point you couldn't, so yeah it's great."
In 2012, Richmond County saw 32 murders. So far this year, there have been only 16.
"So far we're working towards looking at half the murder rate by the end of this year," Sgt. Shane McDaniel said, Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
It's a significant drop that brings comfort to neighbors and law enforcement.
"The crime has come down. Everybody's getting along with everybody. It's wonderful," Howard admitted.
As for the deputies, they admit the drop in crime makes them "excited, because we know we're doing our job right."
According to the statistics, out of those 16 homicides, 3 were in self defense. Three others were murder-suicides, and one has been confirmed gang-related.
Of the total 16, 12 of those cases have already been solved. The Sheriff's Office credits their new plan of community policing.
"Once the plan was installed, it actually freed up more road deputies, which put them on the shifts and they went straight to the community," McDaniel said.
Deputies say the community responded to that, and working together is the reason the murder rate has dropped so low.
"When the public saw that, they saw the strong police presence. I think that opened the door for them to embrace the Sheriff's deputies," McDaniel said.
"I have to hand it to them. They're actually doing their job," Howard said.
The murder rate isn't the only crime stat that has dropped. Numbers show burglaries are down, too, by nearly a thousand cases.