- Special Sections
- Public Notices
City police say that so far this year, the local crime rate has dropped significantly.
Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said that statistics comparing the first six months of last year with this year show a 36 percent drop in the city's crime rate.
He added that the decrease is not in any one area, but across the board.
"I'm talking about everything," he said. "Part I crimes are your major crimes, like murder, rape, robbery and assault, larceny. Part II crimes are shoplifting and so forth. It's all down. It's a good thing."
Schutte said there are several factors that he believes have led to the drop in criminal behavior.
"Over the past year, we've been working with customs enforcement," Schutte said. "This is just one slice of the pie. I know there's been a number of people deported from the community and that might be a factor because that is a criminal element that has been removed."
Jail officials at the Shelby County Detention Center have been working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since last March to deport illegals who are arrested for crimes. The agency instituted Operation Community Shield in 2005, an initiative that targets violent transnational street gangs, with the goal of deporting criminal immigrants, including illegal and legal aliens alike.
Schutte said the police have also been involved in some extensive undercover operations, which he was not at liberty to discuss.
"We're also doing some things that the public wouldn't ordinarily recognize, like undercover things, that I can't talk about," he said.
Another area that police have targeted is residential crime.
Istvan Kovacs, Shelbyville P.D.'s community resource officer, said that neighborhood watch programs across the city have been diligent in keeping an eye on the pulse of occurances on their streets.
"I think it's had an impact," he said. "It's important that people know it's OK to call us when they see something out of the ordinary."
Tammy Foster, team captain of her neighborhood watch program on North Country Drive, agreed that working with the police is important.
"We have a lot of residents who really do keep an eye on things and that let the others know when something is going on," she said. "Like, if there's a car we don't recognize on the street, we'll go ahead and call each other first and see if someone is visiting before we'll call the police. But the most important thing is, the police have been great; it's nice to feel comfortable calling the police. We also get emails from officer Kovacs on a regular basis about things that are going on in the community."
She added that the neighborhood watch seems to have really helped to reduce crime on her street.
"We've had one report that I know of a car that was entered and the only thing taken was a cell phone."
Kovacs said that one thing that could reduce crime even more is if residents would call police right away when they see something suspicious.
"I get emails all the time from people who tell me about things that happened days ago," he said. "The sooner you tell me, the more likely I am to be able to do something about it."
Schutte said another thing that would also help to reduce criminal activity even more would be if people would not leave their cars unlocked.
"Make locking your car a habit," he said. "It's like putting a big neon sign out that says, 'steal me.' Be smart, don't give a criminal an opportunity. If you do, you're going to be a victim."
In a recent crime spree of 13 vehicle break-ins, all but one of the cars was unlocked, Kovacs said.
In a crime total sheet supplied by police, numbers were down significantly in several areas.
For example, in 2007, 32 juveniles received citations, compared to one juvenile citation this year. Also, warrants were down from 88 last year to 40 this year, traffic citations were down from 703 in 2007 to 280 in 2008. Also, 433 arrests were made last year compared to 243 in 2008.
See the accompanying info box for more numbers.
Crime total comparisons
2007 (January - June)
Auto theft 15
2008 (January - June)
Auto theft 10
This table does not list citations, warrants, summons and arrests.
"Be smart, don't give a criminal an opportunity. If you do, you're going to be a victim."
Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte