FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News reports on shootings, thefts, and attacks daily.
But now, some good news about safety in one county.
The Fulton County district attorney tells Channel 2′s Investigative Reporter Mark Winne that felony crime is down more than 15%.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said getting an up-to-the-minute fix on the crime rate for all of Fulton County is complicated. But, she believes it’s safe to say Fulton County is safer so far this year than it was for roughly the same period last year.
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“We are excited to see that crime is going down, felony crime in particular. Countywide, we are seeing more than a 15% drop,” Willis said.
Willis said she bases her belief that felony crime in the county is down 15% by measuring the number of felony first appearances in court, which declined 15% for the first three months of this year. This is compared to the first three months of last year. Felony first appearances dropped 1% for January, 17% for Feb., and even more, 26%, in March.
She acknowledges that fewer felony first appearances could also simply reflect fewer arrests, but Willis said she believes it means fewer crimes because of her conversations with police chiefs across the county.
“In the month of March, there were 311 less felony arrests in Fulton County. That’s 311 less victims. I think that is because there are fewer crimes overall,” Willis said.
Willis said shifts in approach have worked.
“I think it’s happening, one, because of our collaboration with law enforcement, but mostly because of the hard stance we’ve taken against gangs and violent crime,” Willis said.
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The D.A.’s office said that in 2021 Atlanta Police took out 42 arrest warrants on gang charges and the Sandy Springs Police Department took out one. In 2022, Atlanta Police took out 158 arrest warrants, more than triple the previous year, and Sandy Springs Police took out 44.
Willis attributes some of that to extensive training her office has facilitated on how to properly pursue such charges, training which is enthusiastically embraced by police.
“I’m hopeful that this trend will continue. I think that we’re going to continue to take a hard stance,” Willis said.
The D.A.’s office said data submitted by Sandy Springs Police for Jan. 1 through Mar. 24 showed a 25% decrease in robberies and a 39% drop in aggravated assaults. Rape had doubled from 2% to 4% and property crime was up 19%. Violent crime was down 29%.
The office said that, from a countywide perspective, there remain serious issues.
“We are making inroads on juvenile crime, but that is our hardest lift. The crime that is actually up is car theft and we know that juveniles are involved in a lot of car thefts,” Willis said.
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The D.A.’s office said the Atlanta police numbers are as of Mar. 25 and reflect significant drops in many types of violent crime and a crime rate drop of 1% for a wide variety of crime categories but not every area of the county is safer this year.
Roswell Police Chief James Conroy told measuring the countywide crime rate contemporaneously is very difficult but crime is down 12% for his city so far this year.
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