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Home News-Telegram News Hopkins County crime rate at 13-year low

Hopkins County crime rate at 13-year low

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Crime in Hopkins County was at a 13 year low last year, dropping 13.6 percent from 2011. A larger percentage of cases were cleared in 2012 than one year before, and while the value of property reported as stolen increased so did the percentage of property recovered, according to Uniform Crime Data provided by Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Overall, 184 crimes were recorded in the nine major crime reporting categories, 20 fewer than the previous record low of 204 posted in 2010, and 29 fewer than in 2011. The high since 2000 was set at a whopping 412 crimes, more than twice the 2012 final tally of crimes recorded by HCSO.

Last year, the county also posted the second highest clearance rate since 2000, 83.2 percent. The best clearance rate was 85.4 percent in 2007, when 322 cases were reported and 275 cases solved. In 2012,153 crimes were cleared from the county books by either arrest or exception. In 2011, 154 cases were cleared (only one more than this year) compared to 213 cases opened in Hopkins County, for an overall annual clearance rate of 72.3 percent. Incidentally, the year with the worst clearance rate of 41.8 percent was 2000, when 359 new cases were filed and only 150 cleared from the books.

Sheriff Butch Adams credits the dedication of patrol officers and investigators in aggressively pursuing cases and attentiveness, tips from informed and alert citizens, collaboration with confidential informants and cooperative efforts of his officers, other area law enforcement officers and prosecutors on cases with the lower crime rate, higher clearance rates and recovery of more property.

“It’s because of the people working for me who are dedicated to the job and to the citizens of the community,” Adams noted of the lower crime rates and higher clearance rates. “The main thing is they keep working hard to keep crime down and recover as much property as they can. We also have some excellent help from other agencies within this county and surrounding, especially Texas Department of Public Safety. We really appreciate their help and response. We work together to get the job done.”

He said the deputies are more alert while on patrol, serving not only as a deterrent whole focusing their attention primarily on county roads but focusing more closely on things going on around them out in the county, with special emphasis on larger neighborhoods and housing additions outside of the city.

“They try to stay off the highways and on the county roads, not on the interstate which others are already working pretty heavily. They are encouraged to stay on county roads and state highways,” Adams said, noting that the reduction in crime was achieved even with some key changes in rank structure and other staffing challenges.

Last year, Investigator Lewis Tatum was promoted to chief investigator when Toney Hurley left the department to pursue a career as a cattle ranger, resulting in Sgt. Daniel Winn being promoted to investigator. Others deputies received promotions in the shift, leaving patrol openings. Deputy Paul Fenimore’s Army unit was called up and sent to Afghanistan during 2012, requiring a temporary person being called up to fill his slot. Overall, at least three new staff began the field training process to become patrol deputies in 2012. And, at the end of the year, Lt. Henry Turner was promoted to captain, and G.K. McLarry promoted to lieutenant to begin training with Turner to take over Turner’s duties upon Turner’s retirement later this year.

“There have been some changes in patrol,” Adams acknowledged. “We have some new deputies field training. Last year, we had a lot of injuries and one in military called up that set us back a little. But, our deputies still work hard to keep crime down and recover more property. They try to be more alert to things going on out there, stopping if something seems out of place or just not quite right. These guys try to be aggressive enough to help clear crimes. They are dedicated to the citizens of this community and county. We have a dedicated Criminal Investigations Division, whose main deal is to solve these cases and get as much property back as they can in cases where things are taken. Hopefully, this is helping the rates. They try to make good cases for prosecution.”

He noted officers handle a large call volume daily, working as expediently as possible to dispatch all calls — with priority calls such as major crashes and animal complaints factored in too. Being able to call upon other agencies — including Cumby and Sulphur Springs police — to assist so deputies can respond to priority calls, respond until they can get free to respond or lend much-needed manpower is an invaluable help. For instance, Cumby police will often take or assist with calls in Brashear; troopers often assist with manhunts and missing person searches; Sulphur Springs police and deputies from surrounding counties coordinate on burglaries and other similar cases.

Of course, alert community residents also played a large role in catching people committing crimes or locating wanted people. Community residents over the past year were more apt to phone in when something “didn’t look right,” they saw someone unfamiliar on others’ property, suspicious vehicles or individuals. That has helped solve and shut down some crimes while they were being perpetrated, in some cases before the victim was even aware they’d been committed, the sheriff noted.

“My staff has been working hard to get confidential informants involved with us. That’s helped a whole lot too, having that inside information,” Adams said, referring to people with inside information about — sometimes involvement in — a crime who share information pertinent to solving cases.

Adams noted these efforts and others resulted in crime declining in seven of the nine UCR categories from 2011 to 2012.

There were no criminal homicides or robberies recorded in Hopkins County, according the data, which reflects all offense reports made for all areas of Hopkins County which were not reported by another agency.

In only seven of the last 13 years were any homicides recorded: one each in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011; and two in 2004. The other six years since 2000, including 2012, were murder-free, according to the UCR data.

The most robberies reported in a single year was three reported in 2002, when only two robberies were cleared, followed by two in 2009 and 2001. Years with only one robbery in the county were 2001, 2003 (when two cases were cleared, one for that year and one remaining from the previous year), 2005 and 2007. The six other years were robbery-free, according to county UCR data tracked by the News-Telegram since 2000.

One category, arson, showed back up on the UCR chart in 2012 for the first time since 2007. There had been no arsons recorded from 2008-2011; 2012 mirrored 2007, however, with two arsons reported in each year. Unlike 2002, when two arsons were reported but only one case solved, the county in 2012 showed a 100 percent clearance rate. The only other years arsons were reported were three in 2003, and one each in 2004 and in 2006. The only other year boasting a 100 percent clearance rate for arson cases was 2004. However, 2008 made up for one of those years, clearing a case that had carried over from a previous year.

The only other category that showed a rise was motor vehicle thefts, which nearly double from three in 2011 to five in 2012. The 13-year low was set at two in 2003, making the five of 20012 the third lowest since 2000.

There were four fewer simple assaults recorded in Hopkins County in 2012 than the 39 reported in 2011, setting a new low of 35 in the simple assault category. The 2012 simple assault clearance rate was 100 percent. (This group includes all assaults except those labeled aggravated due to a firearm, knife or cutting instrument or other dangerous weapon as well as those resulting in aggravated or serious injury due to use of hands, fists, feet or other person weapons.) The record high for simple assaults was set at 114 in 2003, a year in which 382 total offenses were reported and the total clearance rate was only 54.1 percent; the simple assault clearance rate in 2003, however, was about 101 percent as 115 cases — one more than were reported — were cleared. 

In 2012, 19 aggravated assault cases were added to the books, four fewer than in 2011. The clearance rate for those violent offenses was also better; only one less aggravated assault case was cleared in 2012 in Hopkins County than was filed, while three fewer were cleared than the 23 agg assault cases filed in 2011. While the total agg assault cases in 2012 was 14 more than the low of five set in 2010, it’s still considerably lower than the high of 66 set in 2004, when the crime rate hit a 13-year high with 412 crimes overall recorded in Hopkins County.

Another category which dropped in 2012 to set another 13-year low was burglary. There were only 50 burglaries reported in 2012, 13 fewer than in 2011 when the previous low came in at 63. In 2011, 38 cases or 60.3 percent of burglary cases were cleared. In 2012, 34 burglary cases were cleared from the books, for a clearance rate of 68 percent. The 50 burglaries was significantly less than the record of 122 burglaries set in 2002, a year in which only 24 burglary cases and 198 cases total were cleared; overall, 408 crimes were reported in 2002, when the clearance rate was only 48.5 percent.

There were 67 larcenies reported and 54 cases cleared in 2012, compared to 71 larcenies reported and 45 cases cleared in 2011. That’s only  11 fewer cases in 2012 than in 2010, when the record low was set at 56. Of course, only 47 cases were cleared in 2010. The record number of thefts was 145 cases reported in 2002, a year in which only 37 larceny cases or 25.5 percent were cleared.

The UCR data also shows that while the value of property stolen during burglary, larceny and vehicle theft cases or other crimes in 2012 was significantly more — $451,368 property in 2012 and $322,904 in 2011 — the value of property recovered rose as well. Only $87,405 in property or 27.1 percent of stolen property was recovered in 2011, but $159,813 worth or 35.4 percent of stolen property was recovered in 2012, according to the data. That’s a higher value of stolen property recovered in 2012 than in 2010, when the clearance rate was 37.97 percent; $416,871 in property was reported stolen and  $158,281 recovered in 2010. In 2009, about $7.39 million worth of property was stolen in Hopkins County, but only $31,359 recovered.

 

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