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Crime rate up slightly ln 2009

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Police hope to lower it in 2010

By Lisa King

Crime in Shelby County grew slightly in 2009, the county’s police agencies report – but so did arrests.

Kentucky State Police, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Shelbyville Police Department and the Simpsonville Police Department all reported that both criminal arrests and traffic citations were up – in some cases significantly – from 2008, and traffic accidents declined.

KSP and the two city police forces provided detailed reports to The Sentinel-News about their work in 2009. The Shelby County Sheriff’s office had more anecdotal information. Both police departments also had presented reports in

meetings with their city officials.

Agencies don’t keep the records for felonies and violent crimes in the same form, so comparing them is not feasible, but both Shelbyville PD and the Sheriff’s office report that their activity in major crimes was down – the city by nearly 25 percent and the county by an estimated 20 percent – in 2009. KSP grouped all felonies and misdemeanors and showed a slight increase.

Only the Shelbyville PD reported a homicide, but there was one other in the county.

Otherwise, here is what they reported:

§       KSP saw its number of calls decline, but its criminal arrests rose in 2009 – up to 3,479 compared to 3,426 in 2008 for its Post 12, which includes Shelby County.

§       SCSO saw its calls climb to about 16,000, up about 1,000, but its arrests declined from 1,300 to 1,200.

§       Shelbyville (12,541 from 11,843) and Simpsonville (14,54 from 1,289) saw increases in calls. Their arrests were up slightly more – Shelbyville to 696 from 689 and Simpsonville to 82 from 48.

§       Traffic citations were down somewhat for KSP, who wrote 27,384 citations last year, compared to 29,457 in 2008, but they were up in the county, where deputies wrote approximately 1,900 citations in 2009, compared to 1,800 in 2008.

§       In Simpsonville, police wrote 349 citations last year, compared to only 94 in 2008, and Shelbyville had only six additional citations – up to 649.

KSP Captain David Jude said his agencies figures are or Post 12, which encompasses seven counties, including Shelby.

"The county-by-county break down has not come out yet for last year," he said.

"Violent crime is down a little, but we still had a lot of minor theft, criminal mischief and thefts from autos," Sheriff Mike Armstrong said. "Everything else has stayed pretty close, including drug use. Shoplifting figures vary, though, and that is to be expected, because the number of incidents in different stores, like Walmart and Kroger, varies depending upon how aggressive their security people are."

 

More criminal activity

Overall the good news is that the crime rate has not increased significantly, and in some areas, may have even decreased some last year, police said.

"We're keeping crime at a central level, and we seem to be relatively comparable to last year," Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said.

He added that keeping crime from rising is an accomplishment when a department is short-staffed.

"We've been able to maintain where we were and even reduce it with less enforcement, and I think our numbers reflect that," he said. "We've had some situations with domestic situations, but robberies are down. Thefts are up some, but, of course, you have to consider the economic times."

In Simpsonville, Police Chief Scott Chappell said that for whatever reason, he was glad domestic violence was down, because those situations can be a police officer's nightmare.

"Maybe people are just getting along better," he said.

Chappell's end-of-the-year report showed that Simpsonville had nine domestic violence incidents in 2009, compared to 13 in 2008. Alcohol arrests were also down, with 20 in 2009. The year before, 27 people were arrested for alcohol-related offenses.

 

More tickets written

In Simpsonville, police wrote 349 citations last year, compared to only 94 in 2008. Why?

Chappell said more speeders are coming through his town and they are paying the price for their impatience.

"I think the expansion of I-64 is bringing more people in, and so we have been writing a lot more traffic citations," he said. "We have had a lot of people speeding through town, so our officers are focusing on that."

Compared to Simpsonville, Shelbyville drivers were relative slow pokes, with traffic citations increasing only by six.

Schutte said his officers have been trying to maintain a constant level of vigilance, but that adding a new officer this week would help to keep city streets safer for motorists.

"A lot of it involves resources, and we're a couple of people short, and we've had to make adjustments to cover shifts and activities," he said. "I think with this today [hiring officer Terry Putnam], that will help, and we'll hire another person later this month to get the numbers back up to speed and try to see where we can have the most impact."

Citations are also up in the county; deputies wrote 1,900 citations in 2009, compared to 1,800 in 2008.

Armstrong said traffic calls are the most common types of calls dispatched, and citizens calling in on their cell phones is a big help to deputies to let them know when other motorists are misbehaving.

"A lot of the traffic calls are people calling in telling what they have seen on the highway, like speeders and reckless drivers," he said. "It really helps when people do that. We welcome those calls, because that's one way to know if there are issues in certain areas of the county."

 

2010 expectations

Both city and county police hope that having a larger law enforcement staff will decrease the crime rate even more this year.

Schutte said that hiring two new officers this month brings his force up to 22 strong, a number that he feels will make a difference.

"We're scheduled to hire another person on the 22nd, and that will get us back up to 23," he said. "Is that enough? I don't think so. I think we need even more.

“But the mayor and I discussed it, and I don't think you'll find a police chief in this county who thinks they have enough officers. I think we're doing a pretty good job with the cards we've been dealt as far as dealing with crime, and we're going to commit a group of people to focus on certain areas, because in our business, it's a never-ending struggle to address the issues, but we try to have as much impact on crime as we can."

Armstrong said he also hoping that having a full staff will help to bring the crime rate down in his jurisdiction.

"For the first time since 2006, we'll be back at full force," he said, adding that his department now stands at 25; 12 deputies, 2 detectives, 1 drug task force member, 3 school resources officers, 5 court security people and 2 DARE teachers.

"With that being the case, we have some ideas about how to concentrate on problem areas, which could include having more traffic checkpoints, including some in the daytime, in certain problem areas in the community," he said. "I'm proud of my guys, because they have worked hard. Now being at full force will bring new challenges."