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Downtown Augusta area ranks third-highest in violent crime reports

Saturday, Aug 3, 2013 5:26 PM
Last updated Sunday, Aug 4, 2013 2:10 AM
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As downtown property owners are asked to pay extra for heightened security, they might question why the resources aren’t there already.



The Augusta Chronicle analyzed Richmond County Sheriff’s Office incident reports of violent crimes during a two-year period ending in May, when a South Carolina couple was brutally beaten and robbed during a late-night visit to Riverwalk Augusta.

Within the central business district – an emergency response area bounded by Fourth and 15th streets and by Walton Way and the Savannah River – incidents of violent crime ranked third-highest among the sheriff’s 48 response areas, behind Richmond Hill and the public housing complexes, the data showed.

Even so, city officials said the frequency shouldn’t scare away visitors.

“Every 10 days you have a violent crime,” said city Administrator Fred Russell, a former deputy police chief in Richmond, Va. In Richmond, similar in size to Augusta, crime was much worse, he said.

Augusta’s central business district had 80 violent crimes during the two-year period, fewer than one a week.

Most of those crimes, 56, involved robberies, such as the May 3 armed robbery of the South Carolina couple that was brutally beaten. The downtown area tied Richmond Hill for the highest number of robberies in any single emergency response area.

During the period, the downtown area also had 18 aggravated assaults, two carjackings, one homicide and three reports of reckless conduct.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree didn’t dispute the findings but questioned whether the district, which is defined by law enforcement and recorded by officers who create incident reports, was the same area that visitors think of as “downtown,” basically a square bordered by Greene Street, the Savannah River, and Fifth and 13th streets.

All but eight of the crimes, however, took place in that much smaller area, which encompasses the bulk of downtown’s main entertainment district.

Augusta Commission member Bill Fennoy, whose District 1 covers downtown, tied the crime reports to “high concentrations of people,” particularly at night. He said he doesn’t feel unsafe downtown.

“I ride my bicycle all over downtown, and sometimes I don’t get back in until 8:30 or 9 p.m. at night, and I don’t feel threatened,” he said. “I just don’t feel that it’s an unsafe area.”

Crime reports might prompt naysayers to complain, but the crimes actually aren’t scaring away visitors, who continue to increase in number, said Coco Rubio, who owns The Soul Bar and Sky City, two Broad Street music venues.

“To me, it’s like, what did people expect when you have a lot of people coming downtown?” he said. “That’s kind of proof to me that there are a lot of people downtown, that there’s a lot of activity downtown.”

Still, a visible police presence is necessary to prevent crime, particularly at night as bars are closing, Rubio said.

“I appreciate that, and I think again, with the amount of people that I see out every weekend, there’s relatively few incidents,” he said.

Since the riverfront mugging and a subsequent Broad Street brawl viewed widely online, Roundtree has dedicated two bicycle officers and a motor deputy to downtown. He is also pitching an extra 6-mill levy on certain property owners, those inside the former Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative district, to fund six more law enforcement officers.

Roundtree, who took office in January, said he is starting to implement “intelligence-based policing” to steer resources where and when they are most needed, based on crime trends.

Crime is detrimental to the area’s growth, particularly as the city has invested millions in public funding – both 25 years ago in the riverwalk and more recently at the Augusta Convention Center, said Barry White, the executive director of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Safety is key to any successful destination,” White said. “I’m not sure it’s possible to be too safe, or too clean.”

In Atlanta, the police department recently dedicated 15 officers to patrol the six-mile Atlanta Beltline after several high-profile crimes tainted the biking and pedestrian trail for visitors, according to a July 26 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Path Force Unit is funded by a $1.8 million federal grant.

Roundtree is pitching the added tax as a way to pay for six additional officers in conjunction with a separately funded plan to install security cameras as part of a comprehensive plan to keep downtown safe.

Most, but not all, downtown property owners contacted opposed the extra tax, which wouldn’t go into effect until next year, but, if approved, could allow the sheriff’s office to borrow money in anticipation of next year’s collections. The sheriff began meeting with property owners Thursday to pitch his proposal.

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Little Lamb
49001
Points
Little Lamb 08/03/13 - 05:48 pm
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0
Pitch

If you've got to pitch it, it probably isn't that good.

I can say this, so far what they plan to do with the windfall of money hasn't been well thought out. They come up with an additional idea every week.

Government by Surprise

corgimom
38377
Points
corgimom 08/03/13 - 06:50 pm
7
2
Richmond Hill, South Augusta-

Richmond Hill, South Augusta- Augusta's newest ghetto

I remember when it was safe and normal. Sad.

gargoyle
20791
Points
gargoyle 08/03/13 - 08:14 pm
11
1
“Every 10 days you have a

“Every 10 days you have a violent crime,” said city Administrator Fred Russell, a former deputy police chief in Richmond, Va. In Richmond, similar in size to Augusta, crime was much worse, he said.
If Fred doesn't think there's a problem there ain't one, Or is that the problem? Our City leaders that aren't appalled by crime and violence for the sake of violence here in Augusta need to rethink their career path or get out of public service business . I don't care what they tolerate in Richmond Va. I only care about the violent crime victim every ten days here in Augusta.

corgimom
38377
Points
corgimom 08/04/13 - 03:19 am
9
0
Remember when you were a kid,

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents fussed at you, and you said, "Well, I'm nothing, you should see Joe Blow, he's a lot worse!" and your parents said, "We don't care about anybody else, we are talking about YOU."

Same thing applies here.

Little Lamb
49001
Points
Little Lamb 08/04/13 - 05:14 am
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1
Crime

Haven't I been telling you for several years that Fred Russell does not worry about a thing? You have the evidence out of his own mouth above. A violent crime every ten days in the central business district is okay with him. And if you don't agree, just look at Richmond, VA. Now, go away as leave me alone, says Fred.

Riverman1
93600
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Riverman1 08/04/13 - 05:24 am
10
0
Waiting...

Pretty soon someone will tell us how he saw the Holiday Inn Express, Augusta Lung Associates, Farmhaus Burgers and Sprint Foods while walking around at 2 AM feeling perfectly safe.

Little Lamb
49001
Points
Little Lamb 08/04/13 - 05:32 am
7
0
Statistics

I wonder how Russell and Roundtree tally those crime statistics. Was the brutal assault and robbery on the couple at Riverwalk counted as one violent crime? There were two perps arrested. There were two people pummeled with one or more baseball bats. There were two people robbed.

The city administrator would desire this to be counted as one crime. But when the perps are charged and tried, the district attorney will have eight or ten counts on the docket.

nocnoc
49129
Points
nocnoc 08/04/13 - 06:27 am
8
0
Richmond Hill Rd. Area.

It is looking like Hillcrest might have to hire security during the day for funerals.

It is amazing what consolidation has brought us in 16 1/2 short years.

Maybe it is time Eminent Domain the Regency Mall to restart this area?

nocnoc
49129
Points
nocnoc 08/04/13 - 06:33 am
9
0
To the Nay Sayers

that Downtown has no Crime & ARC has no Gangs.

Major Wake call.

Now how ya gonna shoot and skin that Elephant?

seenitB4
97384
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seenitB4 08/04/13 - 06:52 am
7
0
Hillcrest ...not at rest anymore

I wondered about the place too nocnoc....what a peaceful & calming area years ago.....it was a beautiful street with elegant homes....especially near the fire station....so what happened?

seenitB4
97384
Points
seenitB4 08/04/13 - 06:54 am
5
0
Strange comment!

“That’s kind of proof to me that there are a lot of people downtown, that there’s a lot of activity downtown.”

raul
5729
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raul 08/04/13 - 06:59 am
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1
Countyman?

Your spin, please?

nocnoc
49129
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nocnoc 08/04/13 - 08:07 am
9
0
Actually there are a dozen way to spin this news.

playing Devils Advocate here for a second.

Augusta has 1 major crime every 10 days vs. many areas that have 1 a day.

In the ARC downtown ranks 3rd showing it is safer than 2 other areas.

A person is more likely to be robbed on Richmond Hill than Broad St.

Now back to reality
Why is Richmond Hill #1.
What caused it to become #1.
Why has it been allowed to be #1 several years and sheriff administrations running?

Is there any correlation between the failures of Businesses on the South Side (ie Regency Mall, South Gate areas) , Consolidation & Section 8 moves from the Inter Gordon Hwy to the South Side by a vast majority?

Will ARC Government list, not by street or zip code, but by mapped areas, what the concentrations of Section 8's are to an area? So Crime data can be correlated or not?

seenitB4
97384
Points
seenitB4 08/04/13 - 08:19 am
5
1
nocnoc

I wish the AC would do an article on that....did section 8 cause the fall of that area....could a new mall at Regency Mall turn this area around....a list of section 8 housing & crime areas...how about this Augusta Chronicle???????

...point to ponder
779
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...point to ponder 08/04/13 - 08:53 am
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... Poor leadership...

Millions invested downtown and not one dime for safety and cleanup.

No new taxes .... Just do your job....

If you start getting new tax dollars for downtown security then you'll try extorting more security dollars from other neighborhoods with high crime rates.

**Sheriff... figure out how to effectively use the dollars you have to get the job done.

nocnoc
49129
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nocnoc 08/04/13 - 10:22 am
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SIB4 - Hillcrest

It is a matter time before we read about a widow being held up while visiting her husband grave to put flowers on it.

countyman
21630
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countyman 08/04/13 - 10:34 am
0
9
Facts

The housing complexes in Augusta cover more than one area... The article is really flawed, because it's not per capita.

Nonoc... Richmond Hill is ranked number 1 in the number of crime reports only.. None of these statistics were broken down into per capita... Richmond Hill is one of the longest roads in the entire county.

Raul... What is there to spin? The area in the article included fourth street, 15th street, etc . This is also the total number of reports, and not the per capita rate.... The average First Friday might attract 10k people to the CBD in one night. Several events are much larger compared to First Friday...

Riverman... I noticed you didn't comment on the police officer shooting in Martinez. Pretty strange considering you live in Martinez..

Riverman1
93600
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Riverman1 08/04/13 - 12:10 pm
5
0
Ahhhh, Here It Comes...Popcorn Anyone?

The police officer did the shooting in Martinez. He wasn't shot. We don't tolerate those kind of places. But I'm still aghast at you saying the businesses moving to West Augusta have nothing to do with Columbia County and its high income.

"Evans, The Best Town In Georgia"

lsmith
105
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lsmith 08/04/13 - 12:39 pm
0
0
50 bar/lounge/entertainment
Unpublished

50 bar/lounge/entertainment venue owners downtown and the Chronicle's "go-to" man for the pulse is always Rubio, who like Countyman never would put a negative on downtown activities, bad for bizness

seenitB4
97384
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seenitB4 08/04/13 - 12:45 pm
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0
Your words speak the truth about Hillcrest nocnoc

A good friend just emailed me & said that she visits her dads resting place only a few times a year now...with her mother & they only stay a few minutes...that is sad.....can't stay because of the worry of crime---carjacking & etc.....when you can't stay & respect the dead that speaks volumes about the place...this area is in dire need of a cleansing...don't wait til someone is hurt.

Sweet son
11628
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Sweet son 08/04/13 - 01:55 pm
1
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Sweet son
11628
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Sweet son 08/04/13 - 01:53 pm
1
0
As countyman said, Richmond Hill is a long road.

Richmond Hill is not that bad! Look at the incident reports. The Chronicle and everyone else has not reported the true picture. If the truth be known a computer search probably finds reports with the word Richmond Hill but what is being left out is the word "West." I bet the skewed statistics regarding Richmond Hill would not look the same if you separated the true Richmond Hill Rd incidents from the Richmond Hill West incidents. The apartment complexes along Richmond Hill West probably account for the majority of the supposed Richmond Hill problems.

Correct me if I am wrong!

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 08/04/13 - 02:10 pm
0
0
The problem
Unpublished

is those punk white people from Martinez and Evans busing into downtown with their unregistered firearms, shooting up the place. I believe they're "white crackers" as rangel calls them.

corgimom
38377
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corgimom 08/04/13 - 02:39 pm
4
0
A person is more likely to be

A person is more likely to be robbed on Richmond Hill than Broad St.

And that is just plain sad.

Now back to reality
Why is Richmond Hill #1.
What caused it to become #1.
Why has it been allowed to be #1 several years and sheriff administrations running?

Why is Richmond Hill #1? Because the South Side has been ignored for YEARS while millions upon millions upon millions have been poured into downtown. Criminals, like roaches, seek the dark.

What caused it to be #1? See above, plus Section 8 housing, plus lack of police protection, plus a drug trade that is allowed to exist virtually unchecked.

Why? BECAUSE IT"S SOUTH AUGUSTA, the city leaders don't live there, they don't own property there, so they don't give a tinker's damn about it.

Regency Mall failed because 1) two malls opened up within just a few miles of each other, one was destined to fail 2) it was a lot harder to get to 3) it became crime-ridden, especially when the girl was kidnapped out of the parking lot and killed 4) Augusta Mall was closer to CC, where its customer base was

I remember when Richmond Hill was a nice, decent place to live. And now it's not.

Gage Creed
19397
Points
Gage Creed 08/04/13 - 06:51 pm
2
1
Cookout is under

Cookout is under construction... WalMart is coming to Wrightsboro Rd... wait for it....wait for it... FIVE GUYS in South Augusta!

Is that bad crime word gone now?

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