A drop in violent and property crimes in Richmond County in 2011 reflected what’s happening nationally, according to preliminary annual crime data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this week.
The release said that the nation experienced a 4 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes from 2010 to 2011.
The information is based on data the FBI gathered from more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.
All four violent crime categories – homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – dropped nationwide. In the South, violent crimes decreased by 4.5 percent.
In Richmond County, all violent crime categories dropped. The largest drop was in armed robbery, which saw a 25 percent decline.
“No one has the perfect answer of why,” Sheriff Ronnie Strength said.
However, Strength pointed to continued aggressive enforcement by deputies in high crime areas as one possible explanation.
Undercover operations such as Operation Fox Hunt in 2011, which yielded more than 60 arrests, have also helped reduce the number of offenders at large, Strength said.
“When you take that many guys off the streets, those crimes are going to drop,” he said.
The sheriff’s office also completed Operation Smoke Screen early this year, taking burglary offenders off the streets.
Property crimes had dropped from 2010 to 2011, but Smoke Screen has the potential to lower those numbers even further by year’s end.
Arson was the only category that saw an increase in Richmond County in 2011. Nationally, arson offenses decreased by 5 percent.