Macon-Bibb sets record for homicides; MVP Initiative provides hope going into 2022

Mayor Lester Miller's "Macon Violence Prevention" initiative now has an action plan after months of data collection.
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Mayor Lester Miller addresses the crowd at a Macon Violence Prevention forum.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A month before taking office, following a record-breaking year of homicides in 2020, Macon-Bibb Mayor-Elect Lester Miller said he planned to take action.

“It’s our job to make it right,” Miller said at City Hall in December of 2020. “It’s my job as mayor to provide resources. I can’t provide all the answers, but I can designate the resources to go help these programs that I believe will save kids’ lives, and that’s what I plan on doing.”

Six months into his term, Miller unveiled his plan: Macon Violence Prevention (MVP). It’s a county-wide, community driven initiative aimed at preventing violence.

“One of the first things we’re going to do is ask our commissioners to set up a meeting in their districts,” Miller said after announcing the plan.

Hundreds of residents provided inputs at those meetings and also through online surveys. The county used the input to try to determine the root causes of violence and formulate a plan to curb it.

As the initiative began, however, the killings continued.

Two people were killed in late July and another was hospitalized after dozens of shots were fired outside the Thirsty Turtle Club in downtown. It was the second deadly shooting outside that venue in less than a year.

The sheriff’s office took action, suspending the club’s liquor license for 90 days.

“If all the facts come out and it supports the indication that this particular club created an environment resulted in at least three people getting killed, eight people getting shot within the past couple months, then this is a location that should shut down permanently,” Miller said in the days following the shooting.

The club ultimately handed over its liquor license in October.

Meanwhile, the homicide rate continued to climb. By the middle of October, the sheriff’s office was reporting more than three dozen for the year.

“We are going to do everything we can to keep the public safe and to bring these violent offenders to justice,” Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Chris Patterson said.

In early December, after several months of data collection, Miller unveiled a plan of action for the MVP initiative: $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding will go to the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, which plans to use the money to award grants to community driven initiatives.

“There will be an application process that’ll be open, fair, transparent,” Miller said. “But you must identify and have read the strategic plan, what you’re going to address and what the measurables will be.”

Sheriff David Davis and Miller clarified the homicide count during a news conference this month, saying not all homicides are murders. On December 6, the day of that news conference, the sheriff said 42 of the county’s 53 homicides were murders.

The county recorded 52 homicides in 2020.

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Categories: Bibb County, Featured, Local News