BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Crime in Burke County significantly decreased over the last year. Sheriff Alfonzo Williams says some contributing factors include focusing on recruiting better officers, training them, and retaining them.

In 2021, crime was 57 percent lower than the previous year. Violent crimes decreased drastically, with robberies 88 percent lower, aggravated assaults 45 percent lower, and rape decreased by 100 percent. Homicide remained the same.

Sheriff Williams says much of the success is due to the on-scene training his deputies have.

“Once on scene, follow the leads, chase the leads down. Do a lot of proactive work like neighborhood canvasing, pinging cell phones to find out where the perpetrator is, even if he’s left the scene. Talking to neighbors and looking at ring doorbell cameras,” Sheriff Williams said.

He says the investigative training helps deputies put the bad guys behind bars before they can reoffend.

“We’re taking that preliminary investigation to the next level. It’s really made a difference in our agency in terms of being able to solve cases quickly,” Sheriff Williams said.

Youth crime is usually higher in the summer when kids are out of school and their parents are at work, but Sheriff Williams says not in Burke County.

“We have our school resource deputies who are in the schools during the school year, but when school is out, those deputies come to work with us on the road patrol because they already know the kids. They have a relationship with them because they’ve been with them all year. They are able to go out and check on them,” Sheriff Williams said.

Sheriff Williams says that type of community involvement is crucial to cutting down on crime.

“Folks have come to trust us and know that they can depend on us. They know that they can call us with information,” Sheriff Williams said. “I think when you have good police community relationships, then it breeds trust and integrity into what we’re doing.”