Team policing helps lower crime rate

Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:45am
By: Ben Nelms

It is not common to have a decrease in serious crimes in an area that is experiencing rapid growth. But that is what happened in 2006 in Fairburn. Tallied for calendar year 2006, those crimes showed an overall 8.7 percent decrease over 2005.

Like many other cities in south Fulton County, Fairburn is quickly growing, with a Census 2000 official population of 5,464. By the end of 2006 the city had grown to more than 12,000. Crime had increased during those same years with the increase in population. But in early 2006, Police Chief Charles Long initiated the city council-approved Team Policing model.

A total of 699 serious crimes, often referred to as Part 1 crimes, were reported in 2005. During 2006 the numbers dropped to 638, a significant decrease, said Long.

“The police department made significant progress in addressing property crimes last year. Most notable is the decrease in thefts by 31 percent. We recorded 110 less thefts than for 2005,” Long said. “We were also able to reduce our auto thefts by 14 percent. We have accomplished this due to an aggressive increase in proactive activities by our personnel. This includes ‘zero tolerance’ in areas that have expressed quality of life complaints. Also, we have aggressively investigated cases through more efficient crime scene searches and thorough investigations resulting in several arrests for crimes that were hard to solve without witnesses.”

A break down of the 2006 Part 1 crimes showed a 31 percent decrease in thefts, with 245 occurring in 2006 compared to 355 in 2005. Aggravated assaults were up in 2006, with 26 reported compared to 16 in 2005, a 62.5 percent increase. Also showing an increase were robberies, with 16 in 2005 compared to 28 in 2006, a 75 percent increase. Burglaries were up in 2006 in Fairburn and across south Fulton, with 184 reported compared to 161 in 2005, representing a 14.3 percent increase.

The occurrence of crimes involving vehicles was mixed, with a 27.6 percent increase in entering vehicle charges, represented by 58 reports in 2005 compared to 74 in 2006. Vehicle thefts decreased by 14.4 percent in 2006, with 90 charges in 2005 compared to 77 in 2006.

Serious crimes occurred with much less frequency and were also mixed. Fairburn had one homicide, compared to none in 2005 and two rapes in 2006 compared to only one in 2005. Arson charges for the period were down, with one arrest in 2006 compared to two in 2005.

A Team Policing category called Quality of Life Calls showed an increase of 5.8 percent in 2006. Addressing issues such as alarm calls, fights, noise complaints, family violence and property damage, many of those calls were initiated by offices on patrol. Officer visibility and participation within the community is central to the Team Policing philosophy and is a component of the model that will increase in significance over time, Long said. Officer visibility and participation is critical to the idea that police take responsibility for their community, he added, noting that such personal responsibility will continue to increase in 2007.

“In 2007, we will employ new strategies to continue addressing property crimes as well as crimes against persons, Long said. “Crimes against persons will remain a high priority for 2007. We experienced an increase last year in this category for a total of 57 crimes for all categories. This is still a very small percentage for a city with a population of over 12,000, resulting in less than a one-half of one percent chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Fairburn.”

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