After what Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks called “an uptick” in reported rapes and attempted rapes in February, the numbers were down for March.
“Down is good,” Hubanks said during a meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday afternoon.
According to the police department’s monthly report, there were five rapes or attempted rapes in March, compared with nine in February.
There were a total of 540 crimes reported in March, including one homicide, 17 robberies, 34 aggravated assaults and 162 simple assaults.
In terms of property crimes, 10 commercial burglaries were reported in March, the same number as in February, while residential burglaries went up one, from 59 in February to 60 in March.
Hubanks said overall the department has had some success in reducing burglaries and is planning a concentrated effort to reduce the number of reported auto thefts. There were 19 in March, compared to 10 in February.
“When I came aboard, there were two people in the traffic division,” Hubanks said. “Now there are seven and as a result, traffic accidents are down significantly. If we can reduce auto thefts, I would hope that we can see our auto insurance go down a bit. Car insurance is high in Jefferson County.”
Hubanks was using the same logic that Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell has used when he talks about home insurance rates, which are based on Insurance Services Office guidelines for cities. The lower that rating, the lower the insurance premiums are.
Specifically, there were 143 traffic accidents reported in March, compared with 162 for the same month a year ago. Reported accidents in January and February were also down when compared with 2012 figures.
The focus of much of the meeting was on crime and dilapidated structures in the city, with the department providing a map showing those structures that have been reported to the city Inspection Department, and the proximity of crime to them.
“We have work to do if we want to have an impact,” Hubanks said about the map, which listed all reported crimes for the first three months of the year.
In response to a question from Alderman George Stepps, Hubanks confirmed that a sexual harassment complaint was filed against a police officer in mid-January and said that complaint was still under investigation.
When Stepps pressed for more information, Hubanks said he would talk to Stepps privately, but was “uncomfortable talking in front of the press.”
On another subject, Hubanks said the department has instituted new training on how to “Stop and Frisk,”adding that the department is using some of the same techniques that have been used in New York City.
“They got a lot of weapons off the street but they were also the gold standard on getting sued,” Hubanks said. “We’re going to try and do better and I hope for good results.
“We want to catch bad guys, get contraband off the street and not get complaints,” Hubanks said.