The Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Police Department solves violent crimes at a rate higher than the national average.
While engaging a variety of challenges and opportunities — a high poverty rate, a high percentage of rental housing often leading to problem properties, and a vibrant university and college community — the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) typically solves violent crimes at a rate 15 to 20 percent higher than the national average. Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin, Sr, who last July led the department to reaccreditation under the CALEA Gold Standard of Excellence, attributes the department’s success to the mettle of the men and women on the force.
New recruits are carefully counseled on the implications of serving in the diverse Athens-Clarke County jurisdiction. “After we offer an applicant a job as a police officer, we spend time talking about the 200 calls per day, the diverse community, and our community’s high expectations,” noted Chief Lumpkin. “We have about 20 percent of residents with graduate or professional degrees and about 40 percent with at least an undergraduate degree. But we also have about 10 percent of residents who are challenged by reading and/or speaking the English language. We really have diverse socioeconomic levels, but we in the ACCPD must serve all residents and visitors within the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions.”
“We only hire leaders,” noted Chief Lumpkin. “People expect police to help solve the people’s problems. If it’s a crime or order maintenance issue, of course we can help with that. If it’s a quality of life issue, we generally make suggestions to aid the caller or offer referrals to agencies that can help. Typically, 80 to 85 percent of all calls are service-related, as opposed to criminal incidents. Thus, we need civilian and sworn personnel who solve problems and respect the dignity and worth of all people.”
For more than 15 years, the force has relied on IACP Net to help with many projects, such as evaluating enhanced recruitment standards, reading up on school bus stop arm enforcement initiatives, and researching potential vendors. For example, over a decade ago in the interest of reducing citizen complaints, the department decided to equip officers with audio recorders to record police interactions and engagements. “We used IACP Net to discover the benefits and negatives that agencies experienced with different brands of recorders — it helped us make a thoughtful decision,” said Chief Lumpkin, who will also use IACP Net for information on possibly equipping his officers with personal wearable video cameras.
Leveraging Quest Response to Make Procedural Decisions
The department also set up a safety video camera system in downtown Athens-16 cameras in strategic locations. “In a three-by-six block area, there are over 100 alcohol licenses,” said the chief. “It is a split-use district. During the day, it serves as a government and judicial district with numerous shops and eateries, but by 10 at night it is a bar district.” The department was able to use IACP Net’s Quest-Response service for help developing an RFP and making product and procedural decisions. “We received numerous replies that aided us in developing a product that has worked well for the last decade. We are now going back to IACP Net to research an upgrade to newer technologies,” said the chief. “When we factor what we find out on IACP Net about communities our size and nationally-accredited agencies, we often walk away with 90 percent of the research and development we need.”
“IACP Net is a great, innovative way to understand the experiences of other departments and factor our needs into the equation,” noted Chief Lumpkin. “Networking on IACP Net has only produced positive benefits for the citizens and visitors to our community.”
[Editor’s Note: Chief Lumpkin has retired from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.]