Statistics show that the Valdosta Police Department responded to more calls for service in 2020, but Valdosta’s crime rate declined significantly compared to previous years. According to the Valdosta Police Department, crime is down more than 20% for part one crimes, including violent and property crimes.
Property crimes are usually crimes of opportunity—for example, incidents where an individual sees valuables left inside cars, like a phone or purse. The City of Valdosta saw a significant drop in property crimes. In 2020, burglaries were down by more than 70 cases as compared to 2019 numbers.
Police Chief Leslie Manahan credits the decrease to the pandemic in which many people worked remote and sheltered in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the pandemic, people staying home. I think that helped out a lot,” said Manahan.
The decrease can also be attributed to the police department educating the public on preventing these crimes from happening and when to report suspicious activity. Chief Manahan also credits the public to make it harder for individuals to commit these crimes.
“We can’t be everywhere we need to be at one time, but people have been taking preventative steps, like setting up alarm and camera systems at their homes now,” said Chief Manahan. “Citizens are coming forward and reporting things to us. We see much more community engagement than in previous years.”
Although the Police Department also felt the pandemic’s impacts, Chief Manahan is proud of the department’s accomplishment in 2020.
“I think it says a lot for our community; our department felt the effects of the pandemic as did everyone else. We had officers that were out, whether it be childcare or health issues. These annual stats show that our officers did an excellent job this year, not letting anything get in the way. They still came to work, did their jobs and helped prevent crime,” said Manahan.
According to Chief Manahan, the community and neighborhood watch systems help create a good dialogue between the community and police. “When people see something in the area where they work and live that sticks out to them as being odd if they call the police department and allow us to investigate it, a lot of times we’re putting ends to crimes before they even start.”
Homicide rates did increase with a total of ten in 2020. The clearance rate for these cases remains high; with arrests made and six cases solved, two cases are near being closed. Although homicides are usually cases that cannot be prevented, the Valdosta Police Department ensures the public that they work to solve them and bring justice.
“We are consistently clearing cases way above the national average. Valdosta is a great place to live and work. Crime does not take the spotlight here. Valdosta continues year after year to be a safe community,” said Chief Manahan.
If you have any questions, please contact the Valdosta Police Department at 229-242-2606.