DCP: Crime rate drops in county

ALBANY-- Crime rates for 2009 continue their downward spiral in the unincorporated areas of the county, Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheeks says.

Giving his annual report Monday to the Dougherty County Commission, Cheek said that his department continues to reduce property crimes and, despite a small increase in violent crime, both categories are well below the state and national averages.

"We are continuing our efforts to keep the unincorporated parts of the county safe and, judging by the numbers, I'd say that we're doing a pretty good job," Cheek said.

Those numbers, as provided to commissioners, show that Part 1 Index Property Crimes is down a total of 14.8 percent from 2008 and is 41 percent lower than the state average.

The Part 1 Index violent crimes were up 11.1 percent, but is a reflection of an increase of three actual incidents, Cheek said. That number is still 67 percent lower than the Georgia rate.

Overall, crime is down 13.6 percent, which is 43 percent lower than the Georgia rate.

Last year marked an active year for the department, Cheek said, with a renewed effort to step up participation in community-wide events.

Part of that mission includes more participation in the Internet Crimes Against Children initiative, which is a statewide partnership with other law enforcement agencies and the GBI to prevent child exploitation.

"The Internet is the most dangerous tool children have access to," Cheek said. "If you'll remember, just a few weeks ago a Dougherty County teen was picked up by a man from Texas after he met her in a chat room. So this stuff is a real threat to our community."

That 14-year-old girl was found in Texas after authorities say Enrique Deluna, 23, drove her there following multiple communications with her on the Internet. She had been sexually assaulted, authorities say. Deluna is being held on a $50,000 bond.

In total, DCP has made 201 community presentations and has had multiple meetings with at least nine different neighborhood watch groups.

Cheek said that given the data, living in the county is still a good deal.