Violent crime is down nearly 13 percent in Blackshear.
That’s according to Police Chief Chris Wright’s annual report for 2019. Major crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, vehicle theft and larceny, were reduced from 188 offenses in 2018 to 164 offenses last year, a 12.77 percent reduction.
Aggravated assault reduction makes up the biggest change in the stats, down from 11 cases two years ago to just four in 2019. One robbery and one rape were reported last year. No murders occurred in the city limits in 2019.
Burglaries were down from 38 cases in 2018 to 13 last year, but larceny reports increased from 132 in 2018 to 142 last year. Larceny reports include all misdemeanor thefts and it’s common for the number of cases to vary from year to year, Wright says.
Vehicle theft reports were down by two cases in 2019.
Wright says it’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason for the overall reduction in crime, but he suspects officers’ new in car reporting systems are helping. Patrolmen spend less time in the office filling out reports while on shift and more time on city streets.
“That (the new systems) puts the officers on the street a lot more and the number one deterrent for criminal activity is officer presence,” Wright says.
BPD officers now spend an additional two or three hours of their shift on the road they would have previously spent at the station completing reports and submitting evidence, Wright adds.
Less serious offenses such as simple assaults, forgery and counterfeiting, embezzlement and fraud, weapon violations, domestic crimes against family and children, drug and alcohol charges, disorderly conduct and traffic violations were also down 37.44 percent last year from 219 cases in 2018 to 137 cases in 2019.
These offenses can vary greatly from year to year based on the police department’s manpower, Wright says. When BPD is fully staffed and more officers are on the road, traffic-related cases automatically increase.
Car accidents, both on public and private property, 284 in total, increased by 38 reports last year, but 84 percent of those accidents occurred without injury. The most common contributing cause to vehicle accidents in town last year was following too close. Failure to yield was the second leading cause for accidents.
The report shows most accidents occur on Mondays (43) or Thursdays (40) with just ten accidents recorded on Sundays, and the majority of accidents (98) happen between midnight and 8 a.m.
“For whatever reason, Monday morning is the worst time to get in an accident,” Wright says.
A total of 8,573 cases were generated by BPD last year, an increase of 83 from 2018. The top five calls for service are for traffic related issues, suspicious activity, civil matters, alarm and theft.
Wright didn’t report any anomalies last year. Most drug offenses are still related to methamphetamine, but the department did handle two heroin cases in 2019 — a rarity these days. Wright suspects the slight resurgence in heroin activity may be due to tightening regulation on the pharmaceutical industry.
Heroin is also an opiate, but is naturally derived rather than synthetically produced like most pain pills.
Officers do carry Narcan® (naloxone HCI), the most common overdose medication, when on shift. Narcan® can be used to treat opioid and heroin overdoses.
Wright says 2019 was also a big year for asset forfeitures. BPD used their percentage of the $175,000 seized to help purchase the new in-car systems and body cameras.