Reported crimes in Pine Bluff are down almost 15 percent through the first nine months of this year as compared with a year ago, according to Police Chief Jeff Hubanks.
During the monthly meeting of the city council’s Public Safety Committee, Hubanks said both Part One crimes (Crimes Against Persons) and Part Two crimes (Crimes Against Property) are less than the same period a year ago, producing a total reduction of 14.85 percent.
“I’m proud of these numbers and more proud of the police officers and the hard work they’re doing,” Hubanks said. “It’s not a big number and I think you will see a departure from that as we get farther and get to that 21 or 22 percent reduction I think we’re going to have.”
Asked by senior Alderman Bill Brumett if the 2012 numbers were correct, Hubanks said department officials have corrected some of them.
Shortly after he took over, Hubanks said the 2012 numbers were incorrect because of a number of factors. He said Monday the biggest changes are in the number of thefts and burglaries. Under the old reporting system, a burglary was counted as a burglary, a theft and possibly criminal mischief if there was damage involved. Now, that burglary is counted only as a burglary.
“Anybody who doubts these numbers can bring their flash drive and plug it in to the server and they can have everything except the juvenile and sexual assault cases,” Hubanks said.
Looking at specific categories, there have been 24 fewer commercial burglaries reported through Sept. 30 of this year than there were last year. Residential burglaries increased by 10 for the same period, while reported thefts dropped by a total of 480 incidents. Auto thefts increased from 148 in 2012 to 171 in 2013, a jump of 23.
In terms of crimes against persons, there have been 100 robberies reported so far this year, ix more than for the same period in 2012. Aggravated assaults decreased from 341 in 2012 to 302 this year, and simple assaults showed a decrease of 328 compared with 2012.
Reported rapes and attempted rapes increased from 34 in the first nine months of 2012 to 51 so far this year.
Asked by Alderman Wayne Easterly about that increase, Hubanks said there is a lot more public awareness now than there has been in the past, and that is a factor.
“We’ve also changed the way we respond to those calls,” he said. “The Arkansas State Police has a crew of civilians who are trained to interview child victims and they are very good. For several years, we’ve used their interviews instead of going back and doing our own.”
Hubanks said school programs emphasizing things like “good touch — bad touch” have also played a factor.
“The services available now are no comparison to what they were 20 years ago,” he said. “The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has a sexual assault coordinator who goes out and talks to victims. Awareness is way up but there’s always a need for more.”
On another subject, Hubanks said officers will soon be concentrating more on enforcing city ordinances, as soon as new ticket books are printed up.
“Those fines are lower than the state fines and if I’m not mistaken, we (the city) gets to keep most all of the money,” he said. “That way we’re not funding some state trooper’s retirement in Northwest Arkansas.”
A portion of the fines levied in district court go into the state police retirement system.