Continuing an almost year-long trend, reported crimes in Pine Bluff were down in October compared with a year ago, according to the Pine Bluff Police Department monthly report.
At a Monday meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said the decrease for the month was 28.93 percent, the greatest decrease so far this year. Specifically, there were 511 reported Part One and Part Two crimes (which have to be reported to the FBI) in October, compared with 719 for October 2012.
Reported crimes have gone down each month this year with the exception of January, and Hubanks said he expects that trend to continue.
Looking at specific crimes, there were 86 residential burglaries reported last month, 20 fewer than in October 2012, and commercial burglaries decreased from 29 to 25. Reported thefts dropped from 303 in October 2012 to 163 last month, and auto thefts went from 18 in October 2012 to 16 last month.
In terms of crime against persons, the city recorded one homicide in October, the same number as a year ago. There were 14 reported robberies compared with 20 in October 2012, and 38 aggravated assaults, one less than for the same period in 2012. Simple assaults declined from 199 to 158.
The only category that showed an increase compared with 2012 was rapes and attempted rapes. There were four reported in October 2012 and that number jumped to 10 last month.
So far this year, total crime is down 16.47 percent compared with last year, according to the report.
Hubanks told the committee that the 2013 homecoming at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was a huge success as far as his department was concerned, with only a few more traffic collisions than the previous year.
“Assaults did not pick up and there was nothing criminal in nature, including to the people who came here and spent their money,” he said. “They did not get their vehicles broken into.
“Our people worked hard and they worked smart,” Hubanks said. “Downtown was a smash with 2,000 people and we did everything we could to assist the vendors.”
He also said he expects activities next year to be bigger, and the department was willing to help if promoters want to have two nights of activities instead of one.
Hubanks said the department is currently making plans for the expected rush of holiday shoppers that happens right around Thanksgiving, and holiday patrols will be starting around that time.
“On Dec. 31, we want to be able to say that people went out, they spent their money and they felt safe,” he said.
Work is continuing on the National Guard Armory on North Myrtle Street and Hubanks said that he expects to begin moving the department’s Evidence Section there by next month.
“That’s a major issue we need to get cleared up before work starts on the Joe Thomas (Public Safety) building,” he said.
Questioned by Alderman Bill Brumett about the status of a substation at The Pines mall, Hubanks said he had met with mall manager Scott Green, who will have to discuss the issue with mall owner Andy Weiner about what space mall officials are offering and what is available. He added that no timetable has been set for that.
The chief also presented the monthly report for the Animal Control Department, which showed 177 animal issues in October. There were 130 animals at the shelter, and officers answered 109 loose/stray animal calls. There were 21 pit bulldog complaints in October.
The report showed there were 18 adoptions in October, 31 animal rescues and eight fostered animals.
Animal Control had to euthanize 113 dogs and 42 cats in October, numbers that Hubanks said were the result of overcrowding.
“We don’t like those numbers but hopefully they will decrease as we continue to focus on adoption,” he said.