Chief: F’ville remains one of safest cities in Georgia

A recent presentation by Fayetteville Police Chief Steve Heaton on the city’s 2012 crime statistics showed the community continues to maintain a lower crime rate in both violent crimes and property crimes than most Georgia cities of comparable size.

In his presentation to the City Council in late February, Heaton said the more serious crimes decreased by 1.35 percent over 2011 while less serious crimes decreased by nearly 20 percent in the past two years.

So how does Fayetteville stack up against Georgia’s 39 cities with populations of 10,000-20,000 in terms of violent crimes that include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault?

Of those cities, Fayetteville has the 12th lowest incidence of violent crimes with 39. By comparison, Cartersville had 62, Villa Rica had 101, Union City had 141 and College Park had 232.

As for Fayetteville’s position statewide in property crimes, the city had the sixth fewest of cities of comparable size. Fayetteville’s 464 property crimes compares to 560 in St. Marys, 618 in Winder, 1,261 in Brunswick and 1,912 in College Park.

In all, said Heaton, Fayetteville continues to experience some of the lowest crime rates in the state and remains as one of state’s safest cities.

In another part of his report, Heaton focused on Part 1 crimes that include more serious offenses such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, arson, robbery, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. All totaled, there were 512 Part 1 crimes in Fayetteville during 2012 compared to 519 Part 1 crimes in 2011.

The breakdown of those crimes provided by Heaton showed 55 burglaries, 423 larcenies, 23 motor vehicle thefts, 9 robberies, one forcible rape and one aggravated assault.

Compared to 2011 there was an 88.29 percent decrease in aggravated assaults, a 52.78 percent increase in burglaries, a 66.67 percent decrease in forcible rape, a 3.42 percent decreases in larceny and a 4.17 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts.

Heaton during the presentation also reported on Part 1 crimes occurring back to 2005. It was in 2005 that the city saw 618 Part 1 crimes, followed by 578 in 2006, 554 in 2007, 564 in 2008, 444 in 2009 and 448 in 2010.

In his report on Part 2 crimes occurring during 2012, Heaton said those offenses were also down over the previous year. Part 2 crimes include offenses such as forgery, vandalism, weapons violations, family violence, drug violations, driving under the influence, disorderly conduct and liquor law violations.

Fayetteville in 2012 had a total of 430 Part 2 crimes. Those included 95 cases of fraud, 87 drug violations, 66 driving under the influence, 56 cases of disorderly conduct, 61 forgery, 3 drunkenness, 17 liquor law violations, 5 non-rape sex offenses, 2 cases of vandalism, 4 weapons violations and 34 other assaults.

Part 2 figures from 2012 compares to the 537 Part 2 crimes in 2011, a decrease of 19.93 percent. Looking back at previous years, there were 596 Part 2 crimes in 2005, 689 in 2006, 639 in 2007, 607 in 2008, 676 in 2009 and 555 in 2010, according to Heaton’s report.

Included in the report were crimes that occurred at the Fayette Pavilion commercial center. The pavilion accounted for 44.92 percent of Part 1 crimes in 2012 compared to 41.23 percent in 2011. That percentage has been generally increasing since 2005.

Heaton said the increase of several percentage points in 2012 over 2011 was due to an increase in the number of thefts, including shoplifting and thefts from vehicles.

In order to address the larcenies at the Fayette Pavilion, Heaton said the department has implemented the Fayetteville Police Auxiliary Force to patrol the area as part of their duties, is working with businesses to be more proactive in prosecuting shoplifters and is beginning discussions with Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb to have deputies assist with overlapping patrols to increase visibility.

By way of reference, in total square footage, the Fayette Pavilion was designed to be a regional shopping venue and includes 1.53 million square feet of shopping space. In terms of size and by way of comparison, the Mall of Georgia that draws shoppers from across north Georgia is listed as having 1.78 million square feet.