News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, May 1, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The new Richmond County sheriff is beginning his fifth month in office, and the number of murders is down significantly from this time last year.
Three murders have happened so far this year; one on New Year's Day, one earlier this month and one Tuesday. That's compared to 10 by May 1 of last year.
Three versus 10 might not sound like that big of a difference, but when you are talking about people's lives, seven is a big deal.
"It is a big difference, big difference compared to last year," said Joseph Griffin about the police presence in his neighborhood.
Griffin lives in Delta Manor off East Boundary Street and says the police presence in his neighborhood and all over the city has increased.
"They driving probably every 15 to 30 minutes, they cruising around making sure everything's OK," he said.
He's not the only one who's noticed a difference in the area.
"The neighborhood is more quiet than it normally [is]. I haven't seen any crimes being committed, any home invasions or anything like that," said Augusta resident Germaine Royals.
"It's a good thing because, like I said, the crime rate has gone down, so it's gotta be a good thing," said Byron Hall, who lives off 3rd Street. "People, they still keeping their lives instead of losing their lives."
It's all a part of the sheriff's community policing, one of the main reasons some believe the murders are down so far this year.
"What's different is the fact that the community and the deputies have established within the last five months a strong relationship," said Sgt. Shane McDaniel with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
A new traffic division allowed road patrol deputies to focus more of their time and energy in the neighborhoods.
"The community and the deputies are working as a team," McDaniel said. "The community and the deputies are trusting each other and that's what works. It's not a one-way street, it's not one sided, it takes both."
With more deputies in the neighborhoods, the response time is faster, stopping the crime before it gets any worse.
"If something goes wrong, they're gonna stop right there on the spot, they're not gonna ride by and let it happen," Griffin said.
Around 50 to 60 road patrol deputies are out patrolling at any given time.
Murders aren't the only crime that's down. Every month so far this year, the number of total cases on the monthly crime report has been lower than the same month last year.