There were 30 fewer reported crimes in Pine Bluff in August than there were in July, according to the Pine Bluff Police Department monthly report that was presented to the city council’s public safety committee Tuesday afternoon.
As he did during the monthly Coffee with the Chiefs program Tuesday morning, Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks pointed to one number as being very significant, the fact that there were no homicides in June, July and August.
“It’s not guesswork,” Hubanks said. “We’re targeting the violent offenders and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is doing their part by getting high bonds so those who are prone to violence and have a propensity for violence stay in jail.”
There were 498 reported crimes in August, compared with 528 in July.
Of those reported crimes, 11 were robberies, one more than from the previous month, with five of those robberies linked to three individuals who are currently in custody.
Hubanks said the robberies the three individuals allegedly were involved in were escalating in intensity, and because of the work of a rookie detective and a veteran patrol officer, the three suspects were located and identified.
Detective William Freeman first noticed similarities in the methods used in the robberies, and contacted Detective Mike Sweeney, who in turn contacted Officer Danny Brock, who works on the north side of Pine Bluff in the University Drive area. Brock viewed videotape of an aggravated robbery that occurred near the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and about 30 minutes later located the three suspects, who entered a house on Bell Street. With the help of Sweeney, Detective Sgt. Bill Wiegand and other officers, the three were found hiding in an attic. Brock was among a number of officers who were recognized for their performance during the Coffee with the Chiefs program.
Looking at other numbers from August, reported rapes and attempted rapes increased from seven to eight over July, while aggravated assaults dropped from 37 in July to 28 last month and simple assaults increased from 139 in July to 160 last month.
In terms of crimes against property, commercial burglaries went from 19 in July to 28 in August while residential burglaries increased by six from 73 in July to 79 in August. Reported thefts went down, dropping from 211 in July to 174 in August, while reported auto thefts also decreased from 32 in July to 10 in August.
Hubanks also provided statistics from the second SAFE team area where officers, zoning and code enforcement officials, fire and emergency services personnel and others are currently working. For the month in that area, there were six simple assaults, one aggravated assault and two residential burglaries.
Although he didn’t have the numbers, Hubanks said reports from the first SAFE team area showed a slight increase last month, compared with previous months when there was a heavy emphasis in that area.
“We didn’t physically change the neighborhood,” Hubanks said. “There are still vacant structures there and those contribute to crime but if those are taken care of in an expeditious manner, the numbers will go down.”
Hubanks also presented a series of city maps highlighting crimes against people for the first eight months of this year, and showing that the concentration of crimes is moving from one area to another, which he described as “pushing these bad actors around.
“They’re going to get tired of it before we will,” Hubanks said. “There are about 200 people whose names keep popping up. We know the names, we know the addresses, and the next level will be to concentrate on those people.”
Hubanks said he would talk about that plan at the next Public Safety Committee meeting in October.
Also Monday, Doug Smith, a member of the Crime Advisory Commission, said the commission met with members of the Department of Community Corrections last month because the commissioners had concerns about transitional housing in the city.
Smith said the commission was told that parolees must have a job and place to live and for those who don’t there is the possibility of transitional housing.
There are eight parolees at one house, five at another, and the third licensed house is not being used, Smith said.
He also said the commission was told that there were 1,185 people on parole currently living in Pine Bluff. Alderman Bill Brumett, the only committee member to attend the public safety meeting, asked Hubanks if the department had a list of those people and Hubanks said no.
“There is no master list,” Hubanks said. “If they have to register as a sex offender we know about those and if they re-offend, we know about those.”
Aldermen Wayne Easterly and George Stepps were absent Monday afternoon.