Violent crime continues to trouble the Bull City, rising 7 percent in the first three months of 2016, compared to same period last year.
That increase is on top of violent crime – homicides, rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies – rising 22 percent in the first three months of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014.
Interim Police Chief Larry Smith presented the statistics Monday night.
Overall, reported crime fell 12 percent in the first quarter, driven by decreases in larcenies, burglaries and aggravated assaults.
Property crime – burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft – dropped 15 percent in the first quarter, the lowest rate in 16 years, Smith said.
Violent crime gets the most attention, but property crimes affect more residents, Smith said.
Burglaries dropped 31 percent to 570, the lowest in the first quarter in 16 years. Larcenies dropped 9 percent to 1,444 incidents, while motor vehicle thefts increased 7 percent to 136 incidents.
Smith linked the increase in violent crime to robberies, which increased 22 percent to 192 incidents.
In January through March, the city had 11 homicides, compared to 10 in 2015. Currently the city is investigating 16 homicides this year, including two linked to a death or a shooting from a previous year.
In addition, rapes increased from 17 to 23, while aggravated assaults dropped 2 percent to 318.
In January the Police Department started targeting 19 individuals it knew were committing violent crimes. Thirteen of those individuals have been arrested, Smith said. The list now includes 23 individuals.
Drugs are the most common denominator behind the homicides, Smith said.
The department is using overtime funds to supplement patrol squads Thursday through Sunday, as well as instructing non-patrol units to focus on violent crime.