City sees 27 percent drop in crime ratePublished 9:35pm Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Crime in Alexander City and the state of Alabama went down across the board in 2010, according to figures released this week by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.
The report detailed reported index crimes — offenses including homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft — and found that the number of those crimes dropped six percent (189,857 to 178,741) statewide.
In Alexander City, 705 index crimes were reported in 2010, a 27 percent decrease from the 975 in 2009. Alexander City police chief Charles Rafford was pleased with the reports’ findings.
“The numbers are looking good,” Rafford said. “Crimes have went down every year since I’ve been here and that’s a credit to our whole department.
“Our patrol guys and detectives work well together, and we’re going to continue to focus on getting our felony crimes as low as possible and keeping our clearance rates as high as possible.”
Rafford said improved technology, such as having a GPS radar in every car, the formation of neighborhood watch groups and better communication with citizens, through the use of websites like crimereports.com and through public safety academies, have all contributed to making this area safer for residents.
He also said a shift in policy has helped keep lawbreakers away.
“We’ve changed our patrol philosophy and traffic enforcement policy,” Rafford said. “I’ve found that if you’re proactive in your approach, it makes a difference.
“Criminals don’t want to be looked at. If we’re proactive with our patrolling and enforcing, they know they have to have a good tag, wear their seatbelt and not speed because they don’t want to get pulled over and have something else uncovered, so they’ll either do those things or avoid coming around.”
The ACPD has 49 sworn officers, 31 of which are on patrol. Rafford said that since that small of a group has to cover a jurisdiction that includes 18,000-19,000 people, it’s important to be as efficient as possible.
“We’re trying to move toward intelligence-led policing,” Rafford said. “We want to use our resources to strategize and analyze situations to link things together to be preventive.”
The number of theft-related cases saw the steepest decline in Alexander City. Robberies dropped from 31 to nine, motor vehicle thefts from 32 to 11, burglaries from 180 to 113 and larceny cases from 631 to 522.
One homicide was reported last year, down from two, and seven either first- or second-degree rape cases were reported, down from 10.
Rafford said theft is the most common crime in Alexander City and that it’s the most difficult type of case to solve. He said simple things like writing down the serial number for expensive items as well as photographing them, locking car doors and putting up home security or beware of dog signs on lawns can make it easier to recover stolen goods or prevent a theft.
Identity theft, he said, is a crime that’s becoming more and more prevalent.
In Alabama, violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault) decreased 10 percent. While property crimes also fell, the number of arson cases increased from 344 to 629.