Police leave, crime goes up - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police leave, crime goes up

Sheriff Reggie Rachals Sheriff Reggie Rachals
SMITHVILLE, GA (WALB) -

Is crime increasing in Smithville because the small town no longer has a police department?  

The Sheriff's office now handles patrols in Smithville, and Sheriff Reggie Rachals says he wants to hire more deputies to offer better protection to people throughout Lee County.   Recent burglaries at Smithville Baptist Church and the Pastor's home have some people concerned.

Sheriff Reggie Rachals says his office is investigating, and he asks anyone with information to come forward.   The home was broken into while Pastor Lance Findley was out of town on a mission trip.  

"We are definitely on it and working on it the best we can. Hopefully we will come up with some leads. If anyone knows anything or hears anything definitely give the Sheriff's office a call and ask for the investigations," said Rachals.  

About a year ago, Smithville dissolved its police department to save money.  Rachals says that created more responsibility for his deputies, but they're working hard to cover all areas appropriately.  

Just a few months ago, Lee County officers arrested more than half a dozen drug suspects. The Sheriff says some of them were openly selling drugs in front of stores in Smithville.   He says one thing people can do to protect their homes when away is contact the sheriff's office, and they'll issue a watch card for it.  

"The officers go by there periodically and check the place of business or a house or where ever they're watching during the regular course of their shift."  

In the meantime, Rachals is hoping for a to get approved for a bigger budget to hire more officers.   "If we don't get the help then the officers are going to continue to sacrifice their time working overtime."  

Right now Lee County has 26 officers split between four shifts to cover the more than 362-square-mile county.  The Sheriff also reminds people to lock their homes and cars when away.

 

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