Crime rate down in unincorporated Dougherty County

DCP says data shows their property and violent crime rates are down from last year

It seems as though, recently, crime has run rampant.

But on a more positive note, new data from the Dougherty County Police Department shows crime in the unincorporated part of the county is down.

With 20,000 people in Dougherty County unincorporated compared to 80,000 covered by Albany police, the County police say their crime rates are relatively low to begin with. But that does not stop them from being proud of their new decreased crime stats.

The new numbers say that compared to last year this time, property crimes (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft) decreased by 34 cases.

"Our property crime... everybody keeps getting on this bandwagon, the economic times are really tough therefore we know people are going to be out stealing stuff," says Cheek. "And yes, we're having that, but our actually numbers are lower in the first six months of 2011 than they were the first six months of 2010 or the first six months of 2009."

There have only been ten violent crime cases, none involving homicides: six aggravated assaults, three robberies, one forcible rape.

"Fortunately in the unincorporated county we don't have nearly the violent crime that you do in densely populated, inner city areas," says Dougherty County Chief Don Cheek.

Chief Don Cheek says when it comes to property crimes people seem to be paying more attention. He says property crime is a "crime of opportunity," and that people should lock up their belongings.

He also says the police are clearing out more criminals involved in crime streaks.

"You take that offender out of circulation you've cleared up a bunch of different offenses," says Cheek. "When we're able to make an arrest in one entering of an auto or 'someone breaking into your car,' we generally clear a number of them. It's kind of like potato chips, you don't eat just one."

Cheek says one cause cannot be named as the reason for the decline in crime, but says there are a number of factors.

"One of the things that probably helps more than anything with property crimes, we're getting a lot of input from our residents here," says Cheek. He says it seems as though neighbors in the unincorporated part of Dougherty County look after each other more.

Cpl. Ted Wertz, a DCP officer who patrols the Dougherty County unincorporated, says he can't thank residents enough for the help they provide.

"The people we work for, the citizens, are great about calling us and letting us know this stuff is going on. You can't give them enough credit," he says.

While numerous items can be attributed to the reduced crime rate, the answer, may be a simple one.

"We just come out here and work as hard as we can every day. That's the bottom line," says Wertz.

Chief Cheek also says the Dougherty County Police Department is collaborating with law enforcement in surrounding counties to help bring crime rates down.