New crime unit could help lower homicide rate

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During a public safety town hall, DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said she’s aware that DeKalb County’s homicides have now surpassed those in Atlanta for the first time. 
 
In 2017, DeKalb had 98 killings compared to Atlanta’s 79. However, Boston said she hopes a new crime fighting unit will help decrease the homicides in the county. 
 
On Feb. 28, Boston, along with Police Chief James Conroy, announced the new Crime Strategies and Community Partnership Unit (CS/CPU). 
 
According to DeKalb officials, the unit is modeled after other major metro areas and will give a more strategic and analytical approach to crime prevention. 
 
“What I’ve heard over and over and over again is that our community is concerned about the increase in violent crime,” Boston said during a press conference. “This month, in partnership with the DeKalb County Police Department, the District Attorney’s office has launched the county’s first, and Georgia’s first, Crime Strategies and Community Partnership Unit.” 
Boston said the unit is made up of a team of assistant district attorneys, analysts and investigators who will analyze, process and share data to identify crime trends, criminal activity and offenders in the community.
 
“Their focus is going to be tackling chronic crime issues and identifying offenders with the goal of crime reduction and enhancing public safety,” Boston said. 
 
Boston said she hopes to see the county’s homicides trend downward in 2019. Boston said the crime unit will collect data and divide the county into four geographic areas. 
 
“For example, if we see that 80 percent of the shootings are happening in a particular area, we’ll pull that data and analyze it,” Boston said. 
 
Conroy said he’s pleased to partner with the D.A.’s office, stating that the unit will focus on some of the primary offenders in the county. 
 
The county police department has committed a full-time detective to the unit. According to Conroy, 50 percent of crimes are committed by 6 percent of the offenders.
 
“That means 6 percent of criminals [are] committing nearly half the crime that’s happening out there,” Conroy said. “We will now be able to more efficiently focus on this priority offenders and receive the proper amount of attention.”
 
Conroy said he can see his department dedicating more resources to the program but right now his resources are “limited.”
 
“I think this will be a benefit to all of DeKalb County,” Conroy said. 
 
The unit will be led by Director of Community Affairs Sonja Brown. Brown was named the deputy chief of the CS/CPU. 
 
The unit will start with three attorneys, one investigator and one data analyst. Boston said she hopes she can convince DeKalb commissioners to invest more resources to the unit in the future. 
 
The new chief said she’s excited for the new opportunity and wants the unit to continue to build and maintain its relationship with the community. 
 
“I’ve worked with [District Attorney] Boston for the past seven years now and I do feel this is the next level,” Brown said. “We’re going to be doing something a little different. I feel as though we’ve been doing the same things for a number of years so I think this team gives us more time to focus on those 6 percent that have been committing crimes.”

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