Griffin Police Chief Mike Yates said violent crime has gone down in the Fairmont community.
Yates spoke to the Educational Prosperity Initiative last week and said that from January through April of this year, “violent crime has gone down significantly,” but the lesser or nuisance crimes — including petty theft, vandalism, burglary, and entering auto — have not changed.
The boundaries of Fairmont vary, he said, depending on who you ask. Mollie Pruitt of the Spalding Collaborative said the boundaries they use for grants is roughly the Moore Elementary School attendance zone.
Yates said crime in Fairmont is higher than in the city as a whole, explaining where there is more poverty and more density of population, there is more crime.
“Granted its higher than Griffin overall, but is getting better than it has been,” he said.
Yates credited the changes to the city getting rid of some sub-standard housing.
“We’ve put some pressure on gangs, within a half-mile radius of here (Fairmont Community Center), especially on Kentucky Avenue,” he said. “We got rid of a lot the main problem people.”
He said the improvements in the area with the SPLOST-funded recreation projects create assets for the area, but said they can be a liability as much as an asset, depending upon the type of people they attract and how they are managed.
“What I don’t want to see is an asset that is difficult to police because we don’t know what time it opens or closes,” Yates said. “We want to make sure they are managed properly.”
While putting a fence around it makes it easy to police, he said, “if they are in there after hours we know they are not supposed be,” but, he admitted “there’s also people cutting through to get to grandmomma’s house.”
He said “the perception of the area is worse than it actually is,” based on crime statistics. Trends also show, he said, that this area is more family usable. “The more families we get here, the more use (of assets here), the more that is a repellant to gang stuff.”
More structured youth programs help, Yates said, “if you provide opportunity, motivate, the structured activities will help, but if no one is motivated it doesn’t do any good.”
Structured programs, he’s noticed, “if you feed them, they will come. But the community has to want it to see some reward in it.”
Yates has noticed “there is little community cohesion — it means different things to different people. Some of the neighborhood watch stuff helps, but there is a lot of rental properties and lot of transient population. There is a wide range of people who know each other and those who don’t.”
You can see maps of various crimes, in a mapping program the Griffin Police Department utilizes that tracks where crimes occur on the city’s website. You can enter date range, search by crime under the “event” tab, and see a color coded density map under the “analytic layers” tab.
Yates showed some of the maps, with red being the high density, high crime area. He noted areas change over time as there are arrests and increased enforcement runs them out.
Ray Lightner, Griffin Daily News