After a recent spate of burglaries and thefts in their neighborhood, residents from Brunswick’s south end took their concerns to the police department.
As a result of the open communication and shared information between city police and the folks they serve, police arrested a 32-year-old Glynn County man Jan. 29 in connection with that neighborhood’s theft problems, said Brunswick Police Chief Kevin Jones.
“We had a group of citizens from the south end come down and talk to us about some thefts down there,” Jones said. “We had already developed a suspect, but they helped us focus on that area, and we were able to make an arrest.”
And that is how the crime rate drops in Brunswick, Jones said. Interaction between police and citizens contributed significantly to a decline in the city’s crime rate in 2018, he said. Though slight, the 2 percent decrease in serious crimes last year compared to serious crimes in 2017 is encouraging, Jones said.
“Even if it’s down only one point, that is a win, absolutely,” Jones said.
That drop in 2018 is a reversal from the previous year’s trend, when 2017’s serious crime statistics jumped by 9 percent. That rise in the 2017 crime rate came after two years of steadily-dropping crime rates in the city: a 25 percent drop in 2015, which followed a 7 percent drop in 2014.
Cumulatively, the city has seen its overall serious crime rate decrease by 33 percent in the past four years, Jones said. The serious crimes classification includes everything from murder, rape and aggravated assault to burglary, theft and stolen vehicles.
“Hopefully, with that dip in crime last year we have brought it back under control,” Jones said.
And when Jones says “we,” he means police and residents. Cooperation and input from citizens played a big role in putting a check on the rising crime rate, he said. Police also redoubled efforts to address the city’s street gang problem in 2018, Jones said.
Overall, violent crimes rose 4 percent, from 168 reported in 2017 to 176 last year. The murder rate dropped by half, with two homicides in the city last year compared to four in 2017. Rape was down by 60 percent, from 10 reported in 2017 to four reported last year. Robberies dropped slightly, from 44 in 2017 to 43 in 2018. Aggravated assault increased by 13 percent last year, with 127 incidents reported.
Burglary dropped by more than a third in 2018 with the 180 cases police handled last year representing a 32 precent drop in the 265 burglaries handled in 2017. Vehicle theft rose 34 percent, with 59 reported in 2018 versus 44 the previous year.
Stolen property reported in Brunswick last year represented a 17 percent increase, from a total of $818,226 reported in stolen property in 2017 to $955,041 in 2018. Police recovered a total of $296,093 worth of stolen property in 2018, a 13 percent increase over the $262,545 in stolen property recovered in the previous year.
From the violence employed to protect their territories, to the drug addicts who steal to buy their products, street gangs affect every level of the city’s crime rate. A willingness by citizens to cooperate with police in addressing such activity contributes to the lowered crime rate, Jones said.
“We’ve had a lot of problems with gang activity, but we’ve made the effort to target gangs and gang crimes,” Jones said. “And we are also getting more input from the community, and that’s helping also. We’re solving more crimes that way.”
As always, Jones encourages his patrol officers to spend more time directly involved in the communities they patrol and less time driving through those communities in patrol cars. Officers also have been aided by the use of regularly-updated maps that chart crime trends in various parts of the city.
“The number one call for service right now is officer-initiated calls,” Jones said. “That basically means officers getting out of their car, walking through neighborhoods, shaking business door handles, at nighttime in particular. And we focus on areas where there is high crime activity. And they’re doing it more effectively because they now have the actual crime tracking maps with them in their cars.”