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Property and violent crime down in Greenville

Officers with the Greenville Police Department process the scene of an attempted murder on South Street in August of 2015. Violent and property crimes were down in Greenville last year compared to 2014, according to statistics compiled by the Greenville Police Department. Pictured are, from left to right, Lt. Kenneth Parker, Lt. Joey Disney and Capt. Justin Lovvorn. (File Photo)

Officers with the Greenville Police Department process the scene of an attempted murder on South Street in August of 2015. Violent and property crimes were down in Greenville last year compared to 2014, according to statistics compiled by the Greenville Police Department. Pictured are, from left to right, Lt. Kenneth Parker, Lt. Joey Disney and Capt. Justin Lovvorn. (File Photo)

Violent and property crimes were down in Greenville last year compared to 2014, according to statistics compiled by the Greenville Police Department.

The city reported a 13 percent decrease in Part 1 crimes, which include violent and property crimes.

In 2015, 151 Part 1 crimes were committed compared to 173 in 2014.

“Part 1 crimes are kind of the litmus test to see if crime is up or down in an area,” Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram said. “These certainly aren’t the only crimes in Greenville, but these are your more serious offenses.”

The city had two murders in 2015 compared to three in 2014. Both cases were solved.

Theft was down 34 percent from 2014 to 2015, while vehicle theft was down from 25 percent.

Ingram said the police department’s relationships in the community played a key role in the decrease in crime.

“I think there’s a lot to be said for longevity in the police department,” he said. “We now have officers who come and stay, and because of that, they get to know people in the community. They develop relationships with people. We have outstanding support from the community. Crime prevention is not just up to the police department. It’s not just the police department that makes crime go down. The citizens help by reporting suspicious activity, but not leaving a purse in the car or a door unlocked, and those kinds of things. Those things really help to drive down the crime rate.”

The chief credited the work of the department’s patrol division in helping prevent crimes and its investigations division in closing cases once a crime is committed, citing the department’s closure rate, which is well above the national average, according to figures compiled by the FBI.

The department closed 72 percent of Part 1 crimes committed in the city and 77 percent of all crimes committed in the city during 2015.

“We blow the national average for closure rates away,” said Capt. Justin Lovvorn, commander of the Criminal Investigations Division.

Lovvorn pointed out that during 2015, the GPD closed 58 percent of its burglary cases compared to the national average of 14 percent, while closing 71 percent of its robbery cases compared to the national average of 30 percent.

Lovvorn credited the aggressiveness of the department’s investigators in continuing to pursue cases that might fall through the cracks elsewhere.

“We revisit cases,” he said. “If a case isn’t closed, we’ll go back and pull the file and look at what else can be done to solve it. All the investigators will put their heads together on that one case and try to come up with a new angle that could help solve it. We’ll work it until there’s nothing left we can do.”

While crime is down overall in the city, the GPD’s figures did reveal an increase in rape cases in 2015. During the last year, five cases were reported compared to just one in 2014. Of the five cases, four were closed.

Assaults were also up slightly from 13 in 2014 to 16 in 2015. All 16 cases were closed.

Robbery also increased from just three cases in 2014 to seven in 2015. The GPD closed five of the seven cases reported.

Ingram encouraged citizens to continue to report suspicious activity in order to continue to drive the city’s crime rate down.

“A lot of times they don’t know if they should call because it might not be anything,” he said. “We want them to call us no matter what. If it turns out not to be anything, that’s great. We’d rather them call and it be nothing than not to call and it turns out to be something.”