Nearly nine months into 2013, the city of Pine Bluff has recorded nine homicides.
While that number is still above the national per-capita average, it is the city’s second-lowest total through this date in the past seven years.
More significantly, for the first time in seven years, police say arrests have been made or suspects identified in every case, something that hasn’t happened in any of the past seven years.
Pine Bluff Police Department Lt. David Price said there are several reasons for the lower totals this year, beginning with a new emphasis on identifying what Price described as “hot spots,” and Police Chief Jeff Hubanks’ program to focus on higher level criminals.
Hubanks has said a number of times that drug-related activity is responsible for a high percentage of the homicides and violent crimes in Pine Bluff. Shortly after he took office, Hubanks assigned Vice and Narcotics officers to deal with those people involved in the drug trade.
Price said that is being accomplished by using the department’s computer system to plot where and when crimes occur, so that resources including patrol, detectives and vice officers can concentrate their efforts in those areas.
For example, Price said the program might indicate that certain types of crimes such as burglaries in a particular area of the city occur primarily during a certain period of time on certain days.
“Knowing that, we can concentrate in that area at that time,” Price said.
The same holds true for drug-related activity, with the goal of getting those involved to either move out of the area, cease their drug activity, or be arrested, Price said.
The 2013 homicide total does not include the Sept. 7 death of Monroe Isadore because that death is still under investigation by special prosecutors.
The lowest homicide total for the same time period was in 2010 when there were seven homicides reported, all of them before May 26.
That year also saw the longest period of time between homicides in seven years, almost six months between the death of Gregory Stampley on May 26 and the death of Catherine Johnson on Nov. 8.
The number of homicides for the first nine months of the year, totals for the year and the number listed as open and under investigation for previous years are as follows:
• 2012 — 14 through Sept. 25, 17 total for the year, four under investigation
• 2011 — 11 through Sept. 11, 17 total for the year, four under investigation.
• 2010 — seven through May 26, nine for the year, two under investigation.
• 2009 — 11 through Aug. 18, 16 for the year, five under investigation.
• 2008 — 13 through Sept. 9, 16 for the year, four under investigation.
• 2007 — 19 through Sept. 19, 24 for the year, six under investigation.
Price said the four cases listed as open from last year are still under investigation but no suspects have been identified.
Those cases are as follows:
• Christopher Patillo, 28, who was found shot to death inside a car in the area of 24th Avenue and Plum Street on Jan. 19.
• Tarance Lamar Franklin, 26, who was killed after he reportedly exchanged gunshots with an intruder at 86 S. Richard Court on March 17.
• Michael R. Mallett Jr., 31, whose body was found inside a vehicle in the 2600 block of Cockrill Street on Aug. 22.
• Mohammad Islam, 28, who was shot to death while working at the Big Red Food Mart at 2401 E. 6th Ave., on Sept. 25.
A reward is available for information leading to the identification and arrest of the person or persons responsible for any of these slayings, as well as the unsolved and open cases from previous years.
Anyone with information should contact the Detective Division at 730-2090 and all calls will be kept confidential. Anonymous tips may also be sent to the police department website at www.pbpd.org or through their Facebook page.