Earlier this year, WGXA interviewed Coroner Leon Jones about the homicide in Bibb County, which saw a significant rise again after a record-breaking year in 2021.
According to Jones, Bibb County suffered 70 homicides and 61 murders, which was up from 55 homicides and 44 murders in all of 2021. As of Jan. 28, Bibb has already suffered an additional 6 homicides — almost two per week.
All of this follows a trend investigated by the Pew Research Center between 2019 and 2020, where there was a 30% rise in murder nationwide. Vox concluded that no one really knew why, with experts pointing to the rise in gun purchases, tension between citizens and police during the Black Lives Matter protests and the way in which COVID-19 interrupted society.
However, as Pew Research notes, while homicide is rising by percentage, the murder rate is still below that of the 1990s. Additionally, murder is still far below the suicide and drug overdose rates for Americans' causes of death. Our country is hurting, so what can we do?
Macon introduced a program back in the summer of 2021 called the Macon Violence Prevention (MVP) program. Its goal was to cut down on the dramatically increasing violence. Despite $2 million in funding, the program has done very little. Homicide rates have remained stagnant.
"We've learned where the criminals are, we learned where we need to be, how to use the shots spotter program, look at this year at the learning year a learning year for Macon violence prevention program, a learning year for where we need to put our resources and do the things we need to do," Sheriff David Davis said in an address on the MVP's success in October 2022.
Davis also praised the shot spotter technology and the recent recruiting efforts for beefing up the force of deputies. Mayor Miller was also hopeful for the program's growth. Since then, three months later, we see a continued rise in homicide rates in Macon.
As the program continues, hopefully, the second half of the allocated funding will be more impactful in guiding the different programs and community leaders toward a reduction of violence in our city.
Henry Keating '24 is a Journalism and History student at Mercer. He has worked at The Cluster as SGA correspondent, State and Local News Editor, Managing Editor and now as the Editor-in-Chief. Henry has held internships at the Macon Newsroom, Macon Telegraph, and Greenville Post and Courier. He enjoys backpacking, rom-coms, pottery and photography.