Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Most downtown crime occurs after midnight

Saturday, May 11, 2013 8:38 PM
Last updated Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:40 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

How safe are visitors to downtown Augusta? It depends on when they visit and where they go.

Back | Next
Deputy Wesley Youngblood looks down Ninth Street as he patrols Reynolds Street. Reports of crime increase almost fivefold between midnight and 3 a.m., according to crime reports compiled by The Augusta Chronicle.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Deputy Wesley Youngblood looks down Ninth Street as he patrols Reynolds Street. Reports of crime increase almost fivefold between midnight and 3 a.m., according to crime reports compiled by The Augusta Chronicle.


SLIDESHOW: Downtown Patrol

View more photos from the patrol

Those who stay out after midnight are more likely to run into trouble.

Reports of crime increase almost fivefold between midnight and 3 a.m., according to crime reports compiled by The Augusta Chronicle.

“I think downtown is safe, but you have to be cautious,” Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said. “If it’s normal business hours, I think it’s a safe place to be.”

The Chronicle analyzed more than 1,400 sheriff’s office reports of crime and other incidents reported between Jan. 1, 2012, and May 7, 2013, in Augusta’s downtown business district. The analysis – coming in the wake of a May 3 assault on Riverwalk Augusta that injured two people – focused on an area bounded by the Savannah River and Telfair Street from Fifth to 13th streets and identified about 260 reports of assaults, thefts, robberies and drug crimes during the 16-month period.

Overall, the number of crimes reported doesn’t differ much from parts of the county considered safer, such as west Augusta.

About 2 percent of serious crimes countywide – assaults, thefts, burglaries, robberies, damage to property and drug arrests – occur in Augusta’s downtown business district, according to crime data supplied by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Calvin Chew said authorities believe that downtown is actually safer, especially on weekends, because of the increased police presence.

Normally, two officers are assigned to the area – one in a police cruiser and one in a Mule, a golf cart-type vehicle. During the day, downtown also has two bicycle officers. On the weekends, the police presence increases as more officers are brought in for special assignments at bars or special events, such as First Friday.

“Usually on weekends, you have more officers downtown than anywhere else (in Augusta),” Chew said.

Most of the problems that occur downtown take place near Broad Street around the time bars close, according to police.

The Chronicle’s analysis also showed that more than half of serious crimes reported in downtown Augusta occur on Broad Street – where bars and restaurants stay open late. Of those crimes reported on Broad Street, about half occur between midnight and 3 a.m.

“We’re pulling people from different assignments, the traffic division and just about everyone in special operations to work Broad Street,” Gay said.

Officers have also had an increased presence during First Friday, which draws large crowds into downtown, especially during the warm-weather months, but the police began adding resources after six people were shot after First Friday last July 6. No one was seriously injured.

Police never found the shooter but did discover a gun that had previously been reported stolen.

Police also began increasing their focus on the city’s midnight curfew for ages 17 and younger. Enforcement of the minors curfew became a big issue last year after the July shootings, and the sheriff’s office said it would crack down on violators.

Gay said it’s a constant problem that often ties up officers. Police are required to watch the minors until they can be turned over to an adult caretaker, but the adults are usually difficult to find.

“It’s difficult, but we do enforce it,” he said.

Despite a few high-profile incidents, First Friday weekends don’t produce more reports of crime than other weekends, according to the newspaper’s analysis. In fact, in the past 16 months, slightly fewer serious crimes were reported during First Friday weekends than on the other 53 weekends. Seven assaults and two robberies were reported during First Friday, most occurring in the early-morning hours after the event ended. Five robberies and 37 assaults were reported in the same hours on other weekends.

The increased police presence was in plce during this month’s First Friday, and overall there were few problems – until the attack on the riverwalk. In fact, the riverwalk has few reports of crime compared with other parts of the downtown district.

In the past 16 months, there have been no other reports of serious crime in the area where the couple was attacked.

Wesley Spires, 27, and Ashley Solesbee, 25, were robbed and assaulted by two men with metal bats or pipes behind the former Fort Discovery about 11 p.m. May 3. One of the suspects, Robbey Eugene Moses, was arrested Friday night in Newberry, S.C., along with Dominque Shantaee Hale, a suspect in a May 2 assault on a man who was robbed and carjacked as he left the Riverfront Pub on Broad Street. Moses is also a suspect in the Broad Street attack.

Authorities have identified 21-year-old Kevin Richardson as the second suspect in the riverwalk assault. He has not been found. More unwelcome attention on downtown safety came Monday when a video from the early morning of April 27 surfaced that showed young men and women fighting in the 900 block of Broad Street. The fight ended after gunshots apparently were fired.

The recent incidents did not stop some from going downtown for a weekend night out.

Ashley Brown and Shanice Griange, both of Augusta, were seated on a bench in front of the Imperial Theatre about 9 p.m. Friday while waiting on friends to go visit the riverwalk.

“We’re not concerned,” Brown said. “We never had a problem coming downtown.”

Many noticed an increased presence of law enforcement patrolling the streets and also the sidewalks, where groups of officers on foot and on bicycles were seen passing by.

“I think the added presence of security tonight is awesome,” said Chuck Deen, who was leaving dinner at Eros Bistro on Broad Street with his friend Brenda Hayes. “I think it’s a great sign that people want this to be a good environment and safe.”

Hayes said she hesitated just briefly before making the decision to visit downtown after the three recent incidents of violent crimes.

“It feels safe,” she said, of the extra police presence. “If security is not assured, it will have a chilling affect on me coming over here. If I don’t feel safe, I won’t come.”

City officials said at a meeting Wednesday that they believe crime downtown is more a perception than a reality. Regardless, they said there needs to be more focus on safety downtown.

In addition to seeing another increase in police presence, the sheriff’s office and the city are pushing for a video surveillance system.

Chief Deputy Pat Clayton said the sheriff’s office hopes to extend its bike patrol into the night.

The sheriff’s office is using existing technology in the downtown area; Gay declined to elaborate on the specifics of the technology.

The Augusta Commission also is discussing surveillance cameras, better lighting and plans to trim back trees and shrubs, especially at riverwalk, to increase visibility.

“We’re looking into everything,” Chew said. “The sheriff talks about putting on his uniform and getting out there if he has to.”

Staff Writer Jenna Martin contributed to this article.

TOP 10 BLOCKS

The following downtown Augusta blocks had the most crimes reported from Jan. 1, 2012, and May 7:

Crimes

StreetBlockReported
Broad90039
Broad70032
Broad50016
Broad110015
Broad80015
Greene100014
Broad100013
Broad6008
Greene11006
James Brown7005

Source: Richmond County Sheriff’s Office

DOWNTOWN CRIME BY THE NUMBERS

An analysis of serious crimes reported in the central business district lists 260 incidents from Jan. 1, 2012, to May 7, 2013.

TimeCrimes reportedPercent of reports
Midnight to 4 a.m.11645 percent
4 to 8 a.m.62 percent
8 a.m. to noon2510 percent
Noon to 4 p.m.3112 percent
4 to 8 p.m.3413 percent
8 p.m. to midnight4818 percent
DayCrimes reportedPercent of reports
Monday249 percent
Tuesday2811 percent
Wednesday4317 percent
Thursday197 percent
Friday3514 percent
Saturday6625 percent
Sunday4517 percent

Source: Richmond County Sheriff’s Department

Comments (38) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
nocnoc
45017
Points
nocnoc 05/11/13 - 09:34 pm
9
0
Mother always said

Nothing good happens after midnight.

Darn and she did not need a $40+k Study to figure that out.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 05/12/13 - 05:43 am
7
6
I Thessalonians 5:5 "Ye are

I Thessalonians 5:5 "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."

I Thessalonians 5:7 "For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night."

Joh 11:10 "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him."

But certainly, lets not listen to that old book written by men thousands of years ago. Let's hire a study group to come in and study the problem; paying them $200,000.00+,. for something we could have figured out with that ol book; FOR FREE!!!

There certainly are more places in the Bible which speak of the night. Criminals come out at night; good people are usually home peacefully at that time. Are we so surprised these things are happening at night? We REFUSE to listen to God, and then continue to blame Him for everything that goes wrong. That is human beings for you.

If you don't want to be caught in the middle of such events; don't go out late at night. If you decide to go have a few drinks (which is innocent, no problem there) that's fine; but IF the bad man comes and robs you, simply blame HIM first and then YOURSELF; don't blame God, because He warns us over and over that the nighttime is NOT for good people.

Just like if you eat unclean animals and get sick; don't blame Him, He told you not to eat it. He even said they are an abomination unto YOU, not Him. Blame YOURSELF because you wouldn't listen. BUT, that's the exact problem with the new generations, they REFUSE to blame themselves for ANYTHING. It's always someone or something elses fault. It's my anger control problem, bi-polar problem, depression problem. There are thousands of "Outs" today for just about anything you do.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 05/12/13 - 06:26 am
11
0
More breaking news:

More breaking news: Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown.

Just My Opinion
5880
Points
Just My Opinion 05/12/13 - 07:38 am
8
1
"“If security is not assured,

"“If security is not assured, it will have a chilling affect on me coming over here. "
Who talks like that??
Anyway, I agree with these other guys that it's so obvious about the amount of crime AFTER midnight. Heck, just stay home, or go somewhere else if you want to be out that late! I'm sure the downtown police will appreciate it.
As far as the Riverwalk, forget that place, man. There's just too many nook & crannies that bad guys can hide in and jump on ya when you walk by! And the last couple of times, Riverwalk was filthy and overgrown....not worth going into anyway. Hope they clean that place up!

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 05/12/13 - 08:01 am
11
0
Hardly a surprize!

This analysis of the stats is hardly surprising. Most rational people already understood that downtown was as safe as anywhere else in the county, but only during the hours when most responsible people are out. The real issue is not lack of police presence, but the propensity of a large part of our community to accept the type of behavior that the rest of us identify as undesirable. There is a great cultural divide that separates us. As long as cultural mores of a large segment of our community continues to embrace the type of negative behavior we see on a daily basis, we are going to continue to need more and more police.

nocnoc
45017
Points
nocnoc 05/12/13 - 08:14 am
5
1
myfather15 - Nailed it.

In my wild in wooly days, I ran Broad St. on Fri-Sat from after 10pm to 2:30pm and then Riverside until 4am or so.

I watch fight after fight, mugging after mugging of drunks.
I knew Lt. Lock even helped him sort out a few problems.
I knew Cindy, Gail, Coconut and others.
I watched the scams the dancers work on GI's and more.

The point is having lived it, somewhat wallowed in it, I figured it out without using more than a few hundred dollars over 2 years.

But $10's (or 100's) of $1,000 of dollars to tell us that crime happens more after dark come on.

myfather15 is dead on . It is a totally different culture after dark. It always has been and always will be.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 05/12/13 - 08:22 am
0
0
If more people did visit th CBD after midnight
Unpublished

there would be more crime. More potential victims. It seems the solution to reduced crime is to keep the victims out of harms way. Don't go downtown after dark!!!!!

Remember our former Sheriff Strength's great wisdom, "statistics can mean anything". And he was right. Number can be skewed to represent any point of view. As with any survey. The key to the survey outcome is the questions, not the answers. And who picks the questions?

Have you or a family member ever been assaulted on Broad St?
1=ever time I go to Broads St. 5=never assaulted on Broad St.

Have you or a family member ever assaulted another person on Broad St. 1=ever time we go to Broad St. 5=never assaulted another person on Broad St.

It is statistically a safe place to be. It must be a safe place to be because we have said it is a safe place to be.

The fact that it is not safe for the same reason it was not safe in May 1970 is of no consequence.

Riverman1
86978
Points
Riverman1 05/12/13 - 08:30 am
7
0
So What Do We Do Now?

I posted what a downtown business owner told me the other day. The comments reflect what's being said in the article. The business owner said come late any night and I'd understand the problems. I was told those were not decent people out having a good time late. So why don't we close the bars at 12? That seems to be a reasonable closing time for bars if most of the trouble occurs after midnight. The most misguided proposal I've seen was the suggestion bars should be open until 5am. If the TEE center attracts guests they should be in their hotel bars by midnight.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 05/12/13 - 08:35 am
0
0
Rocket Science in the ARC of No Covenant
Unpublished

"What we have is failure to communicate." Business men/women and ordained ministers who would not qualify as Biblical deacons in their own church are allowed to mismanage the affairs of the second largest municipality in the state of Georgia. NUFF SAID

Little Lamb
46971
Points
Little Lamb 05/12/13 - 08:58 am
5
0
Analyze

I'm sure it was fun for reporters Crawford, Johnson, and Martin to play with the crime numbers that sheriff department spokesmen Chew and Gay let them have. The sidebars up above show their results. Here is another way to present the numbers, walking down the street:

Broad . . . . . 500 . . . . . 16
Broad . . . . . 600 . . . . . . 8
Broad . . . . . 700 . . . . . 32
Broad . . . . . 800 . . . . . 15
Broad . . . . . 900 . . . . . 39
Broad . . . . 1000 . . . . . 14
Broad . . . . 1100 . . . . . 15

And then we have this curious paragraph from the story above:

Overall, the number of crimes reported doesn't differ much from parts of the county considered safer, such as west Augusta.

Of course, no data are presented to back up that conclusion. I wonder if Crawford, Johnson and Martin came to that conclusion upon their data analysis; or whether officers Chew and Gay fed them the line.

Anyway, I challenge Crawford, Johnson and Martin to list seven contiguous blocks on a single street or road in west Augusta with similar crime stats as those seven blocks on Broad. Oh, and I guess we need to agree as to where west Augusta actually starts. I suggest we start at Milledge Road and go west to the county line. No fair starting at 15th Street.

Little Lamb
46971
Points
Little Lamb 05/12/13 - 09:04 am
1
2
Safe Time

I can picture a mother and daughter planning the daughter's wedding. They want to rent the Jesse Norman Amphitheater for a gorgeous backdrop of the Savannah River after dark. Well, it's a no brainer for the safety of their guests. The safest time for the wedding is 4 to 8 a.m. Because the wedding party and guests will have to park somewhere and walk to the amphitheater, I suggest using the new Marriott parking deck at Ninth & Reynolds. You don't want to walk in the dangerous time period, so I would set the wedding start time at 5:30 a.m.

Little Lamb
46971
Points
Little Lamb 05/12/13 - 09:06 am
1
1
Jaywalk

Oh, yes, be careful not to jaywalk across Reynolds Street. There are crosswalks at Ninth Street and at Eighth Street.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 05/12/13 - 09:42 am
1
3
Look, my observations are

Look, my observations are from years of experience. Yes, I've also frequented the bar scene when in my early 20's; serving in the Marine Corps. I got into several skirmishes that I couldn't avoid; as I've NEVER been a violent person. Those skirmishes were probably a direct result of large alcohol consumption with all parties involved.

It's very TRUE that many good people go out late, simply to have a few drinks and a good time. Unfortunately, nighttime is also the time the "Bad guys" come out. So, you increase your chances of having contact with these people. It's simple common sense; if safety is more important to you than having drinks, you should probably stay home after 11pm or so. BUT, are the chances great that you will be robbed or assaulted? NO; even at night, but they are higher than if you have your fun during the daytime.

My personal belief is that many things in the Bible that "traditional" Christians would call sin; are nothing more than ADVICE on how to live a peaceful, more hassle free life. If you're a person who wants to go out, have a few drinks and dance; are you committing sin? Not in this persons opinion and I feel comfortable that God isn't having a panic attack about it either. He created life and wants us to enjoy ALL of it, IN MODERATION. Just like several places in the Bible where it says "We are not of strong drink" or "We are not to be drunkards". Does that mean you simply CAN NOT have a drink? Certainly not, but we shouldn't get so intoxicated we act like idiots.

Ephesians 5:18 "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"

Did you notice those words "Is EXCESS"? Very important.

I Corinthians 15:11 "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."

Did that say not to be around someone who has a couple drinks and dances? Nope, it sure didn't. But drunkards, BIG difference.

I Corinthians 6:10 "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Again; drunkards, not someone who takes a couple drinks.

I just wanted to point out that in my previous post, I wasn't trying to say EVERYONE who is out late at night is bad. But simply stating the "Bad guys" DO come out in full force at night. So being out that late, increases the chances of running into them. I've worked the streets for 16 years now; I've seen this first hand so many times I can't count the number. So, have some fun and lose the guilt; just be careful and heed God's advice and it WILL help you live a more hassle free life. Did I say completely hassle free? Nope, sure didn't; but it would be MORE hassle free, THAT I promise.

Grandpa Jones
1063
Points
Grandpa Jones 05/12/13 - 10:15 am
3
1
LL states I challenge Crawford, Johnson and Martin

LL, Crime hot spot in West Augusta = Augusta Mall.

Steve Crawford
99
Points
Steve Crawford 05/12/13 - 10:44 am
3
1
Little Lamb

You can disagree with the analysis or the conclusions. That's fine. But don't question my or my colleagues' integrity. No one "feeds" us information. If something comes directly from a police officer, then it is attributed as such.
Looking at the number and types of crimes reported across west Augusta, especially in other commercial districts, downtown is very similar, up to a certain time of night. The largest proportion of those crimes on Broad Street occur after midnight. Sure it's a no-brainer, but we checked the actual crime reports to see what the numbers said. If you have specific questions, I'll be happy to discuss them with you.

corgimom
34079
Points
corgimom 05/12/13 - 11:29 am
3
0
Any place that generates

Any place that generates close to 100 police reports in a month is not a place that I'd like to be

And that's just the ones that are reported

But if a place is "safe", why would you need to be cautious, and why would you need more police patrols?

Dixieman
15999
Points
Dixieman 05/12/13 - 12:18 pm
5
0
DIXIEMAN ACCUMULATES HIS POINTS AFTER MIDNIGHT

Whoa! Most crime occurs after midnight! Stop press! Who would thunk it??

countyman
20588
Points
countyman 05/12/13 - 01:45 pm
3
5
CBD= safe

Corgimom... The total number of crimes is 260 over one year and five months. Which equals to around 15 crimes per month in the CBD.

The Central Business District can easily have over 100k people downtown for one single event(Westobou). Even the normal First Friday will attract thousands of people downtown.

JENNPAT
241
Points
JENNPAT 05/12/13 - 03:33 pm
4
0
it is really sad

that the people in our county and outer counters as well as people who visit our city can not enjoy going to the River Walk or just walking down town like people did long time ago without being afraid of what may happen to them Augusta needs to clean out all theses sorry people and get them off the streets they are to sorry to work so they just beat people up and take what they want.What a mess

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 05/12/13 - 03:35 pm
2
0
Interesting headline...

...given that most of those bar owners around the 900 block of Broad are some of the very people preaching a "rose-colored glasses" approach to crime downtown. It seems their businesses, or at least those that frequent their businesses may be part of the problem....

Gage Creed
17863
Points
Gage Creed 05/12/13 - 03:35 pm
3
1
More embellishments....there

More embellishments....there were 9 crimes reported in the last week for the CBD...that equates to 36-40 per month (let's all interpolate.)

Again carjackings, street brawls, and violent attacks on citizens in less than a month, GET REAL!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 05/12/13 - 04:28 pm
0
0
political correctness
Unpublished

Washington Redskins quarterback star Robert Griffin III received a lot of attention a couple weeks ago when he said, "Political correctness is destroying our nation." It couldn't be more evident than in our own back yard: downtown Augusta, GA.

Did anyone watch the Means Report today? Downtown Development Authority loser in Chief Margaret Woodward gets on their and has a schmooze fest with Brad Mean. The stupid message of the interview: Downtown Augusta is safe (just don't go alone or after dark). Brad Means asked no critical questions and concluded the interview with something like this, "Thank you Margaret Woodward for coming on the show and working so hard to keep Downtown Augusta going strong." WORKING SO HARD TO KEEP DOWNTOWN AUGUSTA GOING STRONG ???? This is laughable. Had I done the interview (well she probably wouldn't agree to come to my interview) it would have gone much differently and concluded with, "why has the Downtown Development Authority sucked so much tax money from the people of Augusta only to produce an area full of dilapidated buildings and a crime reputation that allows only the bold citizen to temp?" or "Please explain your position, what exactly, would you say you do here?" (in an Office Space type manner) Why should the people of Augusta not terminate the DDA and rebuild downtown on their own accord?

Columbia County has put a choke hold on developing apartment complexes and anything that smells of Section 8 housing. Until the demographics of the downtown area change, don't expect anything better out of downtown Augusta. But you won't hear any of this on our politically correct news outlets.

countyman
20588
Points
countyman 05/12/13 - 05:24 pm
1
4
The article clearly says 260

The article clearly says 260 crimes over an 17 month period. You can't look at the Richmond County crime map for the week, and see the CBD had 9 crimes. Then expect the CBD to average 9 crimes every single week. How can any reasonable person expect one area to have the same number of crimes each week lol?

Why is somebody accusing the Chronicle of embellishments when almost all of their comments are negative embellishments or just plain false?

Didn't North Augusta just have a carjacking a few days ago? The facts clearly say their were more homicides in North Augusta compared to the CBD since 2011.

Gage Creed
17863
Points
Gage Creed 05/12/13 - 07:35 pm
5
0
And there are clearly more

And there are clearly more violent crimes in the Augusta than there are in North Augusta. As is your modus operandi, you have compared dissimilar objects in order to achieve the results you wanted. This is disingenuous at best, but more likely premeditated manipulation.

And it's not the Chronicle that I think is the perpetrator of embellishment or manipulation of the facts.

KSL
134544
Points
KSL 05/12/13 - 07:43 pm
2
1
So the Mason thread has been

So the Mason thread has been shut down. Would like an explanation.

Jake
32889
Points
Jake 05/12/13 - 07:54 pm
2
0
@KSL

Yeah, I was just getting around to reading it and now it is gone.

Jake
32889
Points
Jake 05/12/13 - 08:55 pm
3
0
I bet it......

.....turned out to be racial. Ya' think?

dwb619
97013
Points
dwb619 05/12/13 - 09:45 pm
0
0
North Augusta homicides

County Man,
Could you please list all the homicides in North Augusta since 2011?

itsanotherday1
45437
Points
itsanotherday1 05/12/13 - 11:17 pm
3
0
Lies, damn lies, and

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. You can spin stats any way you want to for an outcome.

itsanotherday1
45437
Points
itsanotherday1 05/12/13 - 11:21 pm
1
0
"I bet it...... .....turned

"I bet it......
.....turned out to be racial. Ya' think?"

You can count on it, because in fact, the racial component is a fact of life in Augusta; on both sides of the fence. This area sorely needs leadership that is colorblind.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs