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Augusta authorities say more funding will help slow down crime

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In the past month, we’ve reported on at least four homicides in Richmond County – and two were on Broad Street over the past two weekends.

Plus a suspicious death was reported Thursday after a woman’s body was found in a vehicle at the Azalea Park Apartments.

We looked into Broad Street’s violent crime stats over the last four years.

Two homicides are the most in a year during that time. There was one last year and another the year before.

Three shootings on Broad this year puts us on pace to end up lower than last year’s total of 10.

We also asked the sheriff’s office for crime data to compare that to what we’ve seen downtown.

The sheriff’s office says downtown crime is not a major issue and the numbers reflect that.

We’re not on track to pass the number of shootings this year, but if we look at homicides, we’re on pace to pass last year’s total.

Last year’s total was the lowest in three years, but the sheriff’s office says this comes in waves. They say the way to cut these numbers is to get more funding.

For Mayor-Elect Garnett Johnson, he says he knows Augusta well. He says he grew up in a rough neighborhood where crime is still a problem.

“This is east Augusta, where it’s deemed to be a high crime, high poverty, low education, low expectation area,” he said.

He says one of his top priorities is to change that.

“Crime is rampant in our city. This violence and gang-related violence is a problem. I intend on making sure the sheriff’s office has everything he needs to retain and hire the best officers,” said Johnson.

In May, President Joe Biden urged local leaders to use COVID relief money to boost public safety.

“We can always use more,” he said.

Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton says more funding can help crack down on violent crime.

“I think this is a perfect opportunity to get some funding for those initiatives that are going to help not only with gun violence but also with opioids,” he said.

The sheriff’s office says more funding can help bring the CIT program back. That’s when social health workers responded to mental health calls with deputies.

“The program, because of funding and not being able to hire the people. Went defuncted,” said Clayton.

The sheriff’s office says they’re struggling to find deputies, so more advanced security cameras and technology are essential.

“We always can use more funding for all of the different initiatives that we have,” he said.

The sheriff’s office says they could use more funding for their CID and crime lab.

Clayton says they’re extremely backed up, and that slows down investigations that could help deputies.

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