Table of Contents
Introduction: Bibb County Sheriff’s slow Response Times
In the serene backdrop of Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, a series of events unfolded, each echoing a disturbing reality that has been creeping into the daily lives of its residents. This narrative isn’t just about isolated incidents but a systemic issue that has been simmering beneath the surface, occasionally bursting into the open in the most unsettling ways. It’s a story of delayed responses, of calls for help that went unanswered for hours, of a community’s trust waning under the weight of waiting.
It began with a personal incident that hit close to home. A car crash, a suspected drunk driver, and a call to the sheriff’s office that went unanswered for over four hours – this incident involving my niece was the catalyst for a deeper exploration into the Macon-Bibb County Sheriff’s Department’s response times. This article aims to weave together various incidents reported over the years, providing a chronological and detailed analysis of each event. Through these narratives, we seek to not only understand the scope of the problem but also to explore the underlying causes and potential solutions. By doing so, we hope to offer insights and suggestions that might help bridge the gap between the community’s expectations and the department’s current capabilities.
Interestingly, this exploration into local law enforcement challenges brings to mind an article I wrote a few years ago about Japan’s Koban system of community policing (Could Japan’s koban community policing work in the U.S.?). The Koban approach, with its emphasis on proactive community engagement and small-scale, neighborhood-focused policing, offers a stark contrast to the reactive and often delayed response approach currently experienced in Macon-Bibb and other towns across the U.S.. It invites us to consider how principles from this Japanese model might inform and improve law enforcement practices in our own communities.
The November 2021 Triple Homicide Delay:
On a chilly November evening in 2021, Macon-Bibb County faced one of its most violent incidents – a triple homicide that occurred in an east Macon boarding house. The victims, 65-year-old Alice Randle, 51-year-old Alaric Cornelius, and the homeowner, 73-year-old Chester Novak, were found bludgeoned to death. But what was equally shocking was the delay in discovering a survivor who was in the house during the incident.
At 6:39 p.m., a resident, Andrew Doyle, returned home to find a shattered door and pools of blood. Frantically, he dialed 911, but his call was categorized as “suspicious activity,” not warranting an immediate response. It wasn’t until nearly an hour later that the first deputy was dispatched. When Deputy Dontraye Porter arrived at 7:48 p.m., 69 minutes after Doyle’s call, he was met with a scene of horror – blood splattered walls and the lifeless body of Alice Randle.
The delay in response had a domino effect. Sgt. David Patterson, arriving nearly two hours after the original call, decided not to check the rest of the house, focusing on preserving the crime scene. This critical decision delayed the discovery of the other victims and a surviving, severely beaten Colleen Keorner, who was found hours later. The handling of this case raises questions about the prioritization and management of emergency calls within the department.
The December 2023 Mercer Village Apartments Incident:
Fast-forward to December 2023, the story of Michael Bailey, a property manager at Mercer Village Apartments, unfolds, further illustrating the troubling trend of delayed responses. Bailey encountered a situation that would typically necessitate a swift law enforcement intervention. One of his employees discovered a man inside an evicted apartment unit. The stranger’s reaction was hostile; he slammed the door in the employee’s face and later escaped through a window into another unit.
Bailey, upon arriving at the scene and realizing the potential danger, called 911, expecting prompt assistance. The urgency was palpable, given the recent surge in shootings in the area. Bailey’s concern wasn’t just for his safety but for that of his tenants. However, the response he received was staggeringly slow. Despite several calls to check in, he was repeatedly informed that no deputies were on their way. Four hours elapsed before a deputy arrived, and by then, the intruder had fled. This incident not only highlights the inefficacy in handling potentially dangerous situations but also underscores the anxiety and helplessness felt by residents waiting for help that arrives too late.
The November 2023 Home Invasion Delay:
In another part of Macon, on a November night in 2023, Carey Pickard’s peace was shattered by the rattling of his door and the sound of someone trying to break in. In a state of panic, he dialed 911, hoping for a rapid response to what was undoubtedly a high-priority emergency. Pickard’s ordeal on the phone lasted over an hour, with an initial 40-minute call being disconnected and a subsequent 24-minute call, during which he desperately waited for law enforcement to arrive. The delay was not just a matter of inefficiency; it was a breach of the basic expectation of safety and security within one’s own home.
The November 2022 Comprehensive Look at Systemic Delays:
A broader examination in November 2022 painted a distressing picture of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office’s response times. Across a spectrum of incidents – from burglaries to domestic violence – the department’s average response time hovered around 30 minutes, a figure that was likely on the conservative side. This revelation wasn’t just about numbers; it was about the real human impact of these delays. Stories emerged, such as a domestic violence incident that took 37 minutes for a response and a burglary call where neighbors had video evidence of the crime, yet it took two days for deputies to respond. These stories, more than statistics, brought to light the lived reality of residents awaiting assistance, sometimes in life-threatening situations.
The December 2020 Downtown Mass Shooting Response: