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RCSO targets Salem Road (video)
A 'heat map' showing the locations of reported crimes in Rockdale County in 2013

Residents and travelers in the Salem Road area will soon begin to a ramped up presence by the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office in an effort to combat crime rates seen in the area year after year.

Beginning next week and going into December, the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office will begin conducting a multi-week enforcement campaign in the Salem Road area.

According to RCSO spokespersons, the goal is to improve the quality of life for the law-abiding residents while sending a clear message to would-be criminals.

Rockdale Sheriff Eric Levett said, "While law-abiding citizens might have a slight disruption in their daily lives due to these efforts, such as driving through a road check, residents can rest assured our main goal is to increase safety and provide a high level of visibility to let the criminal element know we are out there. This effort is intended to send a clear message to criminals that crime will not be tolerated. Even though this effort will be concentrated in the Salem Road area, it is intended to have an affect county-wide."

The RCSO will partner with other local and state law enforcement agencies, including pardons and parole officers and Georgia State Patrol Troopers. The influx of personnel will perform concentrated patrols, road checks, and proactive activities.

The Newton County Sheriff's Office is aware of the campaign but is not part of the task force, said NCSO spokesperson Deputy Cortney Morrison. She said the traffic division is "targeting the whole entire county for infractions" and focusing on several different areas. "We always do increased traffic presence and patrol during the holidays."

According to the RCSO's analysis of several years-worth of crime data, the Salem Road area has statistically been one of the highest crime areas in the entire county for burglaries, entering autos, robberies, and thefts year after year.

RCSO Chief Deputy Scott Freeman explained, "the crime 'heat index' map shows us that where we need to focus our efforts, and that is exactly what we are setting out to do. This specific effort is designed to have an immediate impact in the area and focus on crime reduction. We are gearing up for to make this area as safe as we possibly can make it."

The crime rate in the area also tends to spike after Thanksgiving, said Freeman. "That's typically when shopping starts to increase. We want to start it before Thanksgiving to establish the law enforcement presence in the area. But also to make sure those criminals staking out the area know we're there."

Sheriff Levett added that deputies will be deployed county-wide in assigned patrol zones. "Citizens and business owners in other areas of Rockdale County will not be neglected due to the concentrated crime reduction effort in the Salem Road corridor. There will be many deputies on duty during the holiday season to ensure safety county-wide, not just on Salem Road."

Following this concentrated effort, the RCSO will continue to have an increased presence in the Salem Road and other high crime areas with specialized units such as the Criminal Interdiction Unit and Task Force, as well as concentrated patrol efforts of zone units.

Levett said, "This effort is the first of many crime-fighting and crime reduction efforts that Rockdale County residents will see in our efforts to make Rockdale County safe."