Preliminary reports released by the Dothan Police Department show a drastic decrease in crime during the 2006 holiday season. Last year was the second year the police department increased patrols to deter criminals.
Nationally, crime is on the rise, but in Dothan, reports show increased officers on the roadways and in shopping centers helped keep residents in the area safer in 2006 than in the past.
Dothan Police Chief John Powell took a chance during the 2006 holiday season by allocating many hours of overtime.
The extra hours allowed shopping centers to be better patrolled in an effort to decrease crime.
Wednesday, Powell's instinct was backed up by solid numbers that the program proved to be effective. "It paid dividends and we saw a dramatic reduction in crime and we plan to continue the program," he said.
Rapes, burglaries, and robberies were all down during the 2006 holiday season.
"We showed an approximate reduction in crime of about 37 percent over the holidays because of increased patrol," said Sgt. Anthony Westberry.
Police attribute the programs success mainly to the number of officers present.
Chief Powell said, "Visibility is number one. We had officers in uniform and marked cars and hopefully, bad guys thought twice before committing a crime."
Police Chief Powell says while the numbers are positive, the decrease in crime is even more notable because of the increase in Dothan's population.
This is the second year the increase in holiday patrol has been effective. The first year, crime decreased almost 50 percent. So in just two years, holiday crime has decreased almost 90 percent.
The Dothan Police Department was able to bring in more officers to work during the holidays partially because of federal grant money.