Greenville crime decreasing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 19, 2003

Looking at the numbers for serious crimes committed in the city of Greenville, which generally means felonies (or Part I crimes in police jargon), such as homicide, burglary, rape or assault, the crime rate decreased overall by approximately 49 percent from 2000 to 2002.

The total number of felony crimes dropped from 360 cases in 2000 to 258 in 2001, then to 183 in 2002.

&uot;I would say that one of the reasons the rate has dropped has been cooperation of the citizens, especially when it comes time to prosecute,&uot; said Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram. &uot;It’s a 5/95 deal. Five percent of the population commits 95 percent of the crimes. We work very hard to get these people off the streets and into prison. That’s helped – having people willing to prosecute and helping us get them off the streets – then they don’t commit repeat crimes.&uot;

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Ingram said that the other factor contributing to the decrease is increasing the police force’s presence when a problem arises.

&uot;When we start having a significant number of crimes in any particular neighborhood, we will dedicate the resources to that neighborhood, whether it be investigators or additional patrols, to prevent more from happening and apprehend those committing the crimes.&uot;

Ingram said that the community’s involvement is key.

&uot;Without the community, it’s much harder,&uot; he said. &uot;But we have had good cooperation in getting those who need to be off the streets, off the streets.&uot;

The Greenville Police Department also has had success in increasing their case clearance rate in most categories.

There were 215 burglaries in 2000, and the GPD cleared 43, or 20 percent. In 2001, the number of burglaries declined to 108, of which the GPD cleared 49, or 45 percent. In 2002, the GPD cleared 30 percent of the 102 burglary cases they received.

&uot;The statewide average for clearing burglaries is 12 percent,&uot; Ingram said. &uot;We are doing a good deal better than that here.&uot;

The police department’s record was even better with assault cases, clearing 77 percent of the 18 cases they received in 2000, 96 percent of 24 cases in 2001 and 81 percent of the 27 assault cases received in 2002.

Another bit of good news is that the number of overall cases assigned to the police department’s investigators has decreased in this time period.

The number of cases turned over to GPD investigators in 2000 was 659. That number dropped to 500 cases in 2001, for a 24 percent decrease. The total for 2002 was 488, another 2 percent decrease.

&uot;We have two in-house investigators and one assigned to the drug task force,&uot; Ingram said. &uot;Having a drug task force has helped our investigative abilities a great deal because they have more time to target the drug cases and do a thorough investigation. It’s harder for our in-house guys sometimes because they are constantly being pulled off to investigate other types of crimes.&uot;

The police chief said the other side of the coin is that the number of forgeries, which are not Part I crimes, is increasing significantly. In 2000, there were 27 reported forgery cases in Greenville, in 2002 that number has risen to 66.

&uot;We seem to be having more forgeries as technology gets better,&uot; Ingram said. &uot;People have the ability now to print official-looking checks with routing numbers and correct account numbers on them. If you come in with the right account numbers, most of the time, people will cash them.&uot;

Ingram pointed out that most of the forgery cases are usually people traveling through.

&uot;These cases are tough because they are very time-consuming to track down and deal with,&uot; he said.