Reported crime numbers show downturn in February


Reported crimes in most all categories went down in February compared with numbers from January, according to Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks.

During a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday, Hubanks unveiled the department’s new system, in which he said he has “100 percent confidence.”

“If anybody questions these numbers, we will open up our server and they can, under supervision, extract data on whatever they want except rapes and juveniles,” Hubanks said. “No other police department will make that kind of offer and if somebody can prove me a liar, they can do it publicly.”

There were 555 reported crimes against persons and property in January, compared with 444 in February.

According to the department report, there were 73 residential burglaries in January, and that figure dropped to 59 last month.

“They’re down but we’re not sure why,” Hubanks said. “There were no significant arrests but we think somebody is in jail. We just don’t know who.”

He said after looking at the early numbers, the department decided to assign extra patrols to specific areas to combat the problem.

“The first day they started we saw a drop in the numbers,” he said. “Somebody is in jail and they didn’t stop happening by themselves or because we had stakeouts.”

The only category that showed an increase from January to February was rapes, with three reported in January, and nine in February.

“In only two cases last month were the attackers unknown, “Hubanks said. “In the other cases, the victims named their attacker and that’s a majority of the cases. It’s not like we have a serial rapist or anything like that.”

Using data from the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association (MECA), the department is now mapping every call for service, including reports of gunshots or gun-related incidents.

According to the map, a high percentage of those occurred in the central part of the city.

“The officers will be able to pull these maps up in their cars and check their specific zone for the hot spots,” Hubanks said.

Looking at other two-month comparisons, reported robberies dropped from 18 in January to 13 last month, while aggravated assaults went from 39 to 13. Simple assaults decreased from 151 in January to 113 in February.

There were 10 commercial burglaries in February, six fewer than in January, reported thefts dropped form 234 to 211, and auto thefts went down from 19 to 10.

In addition to mapping calls for service, the department is comparing those numbers with what the officers actually encounter. For example, a person might say “they have been robbed” when in fact their home was broken into.

“There could be a number of other attending crimes to go with that one call,” Hubanks said.

Hubanks also provided a complete breakdown of department calls for service for January and February, which indicated that in January, police answered a total of 3,902 calls, while the number for February was 3,620.

Looking at some specific categories, there were 250 reported domestic disturbances in January and 242 last month.

Officers answered 676 burglar alarm calls in January and 639 in February. There were 93 reports of gunshots in January and 39 in February, nine reported shootings in January and two in February, and 33 armed disturbances in January compared with 26 in February.

“These are exactly the numbers we are reporting to the FBI,” Hubanks said. “In the past you were not getting that.”

Hubanks said citizen complaints against officers are down 50 percent through the first two months of the year compared with last year, and detectives have sent 74 felony cases to the prosecutor’s office to review for the filing of charges. The numbers are about equal when comparing crimes against persons with crimes against property.

He said department training is “way up and we’re going to continue that trend because if we don’t train, we have to pay the other way through lawsuits.”

According to figures compiled by Lt. David Price, the department conducted 180 hours of in-service training during the months of January and February, with 540 officers attending. In addition, there was 38 hours of specialized training in subjects like radar operator school, radar refresher and breathalyzer school with a total of 36 officers attending, along with two from other agencies.