Bainbridge ends year with spike in violent crime, economic growth
BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WALB) - The City of Bainbridge is ending the year with a spike in violent crimes but also economic growth.
While the city is growing and has been growing for the last few years, what concerns law enforcement is not an increase in crime but how it’s happening in a short amount of time.
“Kicked off an odd number of homicides. Up to five this year and so I’ve never seen it happen within such a short time so many,” said Redell Walton, Bainbridge Pubic Safety police chief.
Just two weeks ago, two people were killed in two separate shootings. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still investigating both shooting incidents to see if they’re connected.
“So within a 28-hour period roughly, we had several bodies on the ground and it was a shock,” Walton said.
The recent uptick in violence this late in the year has prompted an increase in patrolling but Walton said it’s also going to take the community’s help to make sure Bainbridge stays safe.
“We can patrol but without the community assisting us and being active in what goes on, we can’t do it by ourselves,” he said.
Walton said the city’s economic growth is not connected to the increase in crime. Some residents agreed with Walton about what they are seeing with crime.
”It has been a slight increase in crime but it doesn’t in my opinion, it doesn’t seem to be related to anything. It seems like a bunch of sporadic events that were escalated unreasonably,” said Tristen Brannen, Bainbridge resident.
Concerns about increased crime rates are not stopping the City of Bainbridge from growing.
Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds said he anticipates Danimer, a chemical factory, to bring in 400 jobs once it opens up. Other major companies like A1 Industries have also brought in more opportunities for residents.
“In the last census, we showed a 14% growth. It was anticipated that we would actually show a decreased population,” he said.
Reynolds also said they avoided that decrease with plenty of economic activity. In downtown Bainbridge alone, 12 new businesses opened their doors. This is a massive change coming from the city experiencing an economic drought years ago.
“When I was in high school, the only thing we would come to Bainbridge for is tennis. And that’s it,” said Ansley Holden, a downtown Bainbridge business owner.
She said now downtown Bainbridge sees tourists from Alabama and Florida.
”In 2019, we’ve gone to a key restaurant to several retailers, several restaurants and it’s just really boomed in two to three years,” she said.
Brannan said he’s also amazed to see buildings older than him get revitalized and redesigned. He added that with each new business comes more benefits for everyone.
“When people visit they spend money, when people spend money that helps taxes, that helps projects in the city. It’s giving Bainbridge something to offer to the rest of the communities in the area,” he said.
And as for crime, Reynolds said he believes there won’t be a steady increase into the new year, even with more economic developments to come.
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