Pandemic credited with cutting Valdosta crime rate

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VALDOSTA — The crime rate for the City of Valdosta fell by more than a fifth in 2020 and the police chief says the pandemic had a lot to do with it.

According to the Valdosta Police Department’s internal statistics, crime is down more than 20% for Part One crimes, including violent and property crimes, according to a statement from the city.

Property crimes are usually crimes of opportunity — for example, incidents where an individual sees valuables, such as a phone or purse, left inside cars.

In 2020, burglaries were down by more than 70 cases compared to 2019 numbers. 

Police Chief Leslie Manahan said the pandemic, in which many people worked remotely and sheltered in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, helped drive the numbers down. 

"I think a lot of it had to do with the pandemic, people staying home. I think that helped out a lot," Manahan said.

Homicide rates increased, with a total of 10 in 2020. Six of the cases were solved and two cases are close to being closed, the police statement said.

Manahan credited the public to making it harder for individuals to commit crimes.

"We can't be everywhere we need to be at one time but people have been taking preventative steps, like setting up alarm and camera systems at their homes now," Manahan said. "Citizens are coming forward and reporting things to us. We see much more community engagement than in previous years.”

The police department has worked to educate the public in preventing crime.

"We are consistently clearing cases way above the national average. Valdosta is a great place to live and work. Crime does not take the spotlight here. Valdosta continues year after year to be a safe community," Manahan said.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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