How Augusta DA says he’s working to stop gang violence
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Last week, Augusta’s district attorney announced a 25-count indictment against these five alleged gang members.
All face charges in the January shooting death of 8-year-old Arbrie Anthony. The district attorney’s office says her death served as a catalyst to launch its new “violent crimes unit.”
Here’s a look at violent crime stats in Richmond County over the last four years.
While homicides and aggravated assaults took a slight dip from 2020 to 2021, the number of shootings increased.
The DA says the newly formed violent crimes unit is needed in our city.
“If I never see another eight-year-old in a casket, it will be too soon. We have to do everything as a community to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said District Attorney Jared Williams, Augusta Judicial Circuit. “It is the single most aggressive step we’ve taken in order to combat crime in the history of the DA’s office,” he said.
The DA’s office created the unit back in December. It focuses on violent crimes such as murders and gang activity, the special victim’s unit that handles sex crimes, and crimes against children and the elderly.
“That gives us the best opportunity to protect our victims, provide service for them, and make sure everything we do is at the highest standard,” said Williams.
Williams says this unit alone can’t fight the gang problem.
“While this unit can be more proactive, we as a community have to be proactive. We have to get to these kids early and often. We have to get to them before they get enticed by those gangs,” he said.
Williams says in order to help combat gang violence, the community has to start early working with youth, getting into schools, starting community programs, and change the behavior of the city.
“That lifestyle might be attractive for a while, but it only ends up in prison or death,” he said.
He wants the community to trust law enforcement and know that little things can make the change.
Each unit within the task force has a unit chief assigned from the sheriff’s office and a prosecutor from the DA’s office. Williams says they now have dedicated prosecutors and investigators who will work together on cases and hopefully identify issues in the earlier stages.
“My biggest hope is that we will start identifying issues earlier, noticing trends, using data and research to get better results not just in the courtroom but in people’s lives,” said Williams.
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