Folks in Tifton will soon see more police officers on the streets. After ending some joint agreements with the county, the city has nearly a million dollars to work with. City leaders will use most of it to create a special crime suppression unit.
This special unit will go wherever the majority of the crime is because they want to send a message to criminals. If you commit a crime, you will be caught and you will also spend more time in jail.
For three years, officers in Tifton have had their hands full. "We've kept six open positions through the entire year to help the city through the financial crisis," said Tifton Police Chief James Smith.
That means officers have had to do more with less which can be difficult when crime is on the rise."The call volume is so heavy now," said Lieutenant Rahney.
Lieutenant Garfield Rahney says he's having to do things he normally wouldn't have to do. "Under normal circumstances supervisors don't have to do reports," he said.
"It is a bad feeling when you see all of these crime stats and you know your officers are doing everything possible," said Mayor Jamie Cater.
But that's about to change, "We are doing an actual task force that will focus on nothing but crime," said Cater.
The city and county recently parted ways on some joint operations which means 900,000 has been freed up for the city. The majority will go towards a specialized crime suppression unit. "Lets say we have a bunch of burglaries in one section of the city, the unit will go to that part of the city,"said Rahney.
The high crime unit will consist of four new but experienced police officers and wherever the need is that's where they are going. A relief for officers like Garfield, who have been slammed with calls.
They are also going to make sure the victim of the crime stays involved during the entire process, victims like Vivian Hightower who's business has been targeted by criminals a number of times.
Mayor Jamie Cater says he hopes it sends a message to criminals. "We are going to let them know you are not going to do crime in Tifton Georgia," he said.
The unit will go to work on the first of July.
Since the majority of the criminals are repeat offenders, the chief has been working closely with the district attorney and judges to make sure the criminals get to jail quicker and they stay there longer.
Part of the money will also be used to form a code enforcement department.
The police department is now accepting applications for the new police officer openings.