Archived Story

Crime decreasing in city

Published 12:45pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alexander City police have been keeping crime low, according to recent statistics released from the department.

The department tracks index crimes, which include felony offenses, and reports them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Year to date, the department has seen a 47 percent decrease in 2012 from the same period in 2011.

“There are a lot of categories out of our index crimes where we are seeing a decrease,” said ACPD Chief Charles Rafford. “We have seen a dramatic decrease in burglaries from 2011.”

Burglaries are down from 178 in 2011 to 104 this year, which is a 71 percent decrease. Assaults are down from 20 to 12, and rapes decreased from 19 to 6.

First-degree thefts dropped from 32 to 23, while second-degree thefts declined from 97 to 77. Automobile thefts also saw a decrease from 14 to 6.

Arson stayed flat with 3 in 2011 and 3 in 2013, and there were no kidnappings in 2011 or 2012 so far.

“I believe the work of our patrol officers, detectives, Crime Interdiction Task Force, crime prevention officer and our Narcotics Task Force is helping to reduce crime numbers,” Rafford said. “These are the folks directly responsible for lowering crime rates.”

Rafford said that the new metal theft law has had an effect in lowering the occurrences of metal-driven thefts.

Two categories did have increases, however. There were no homicides in 2011, but so far in 2012, there have been three.

“We usually average about one or two homicides per year,” Rafford said. “It is very difficult to prevent homicides, though, unless we have some knowledge ahead of time that someone is planning on killing someone.”

Robberies increased from 11 to 20, but Rafford said this figure doesn’t necessarily mean that people are getting robbed on the streets.

“The majority of these robberies occurred at Wal-Mart with what started out as shoplifting (third-degree theft or second-degree theft),” Rafford said. “When the shoplifter was approached by the loss prevention officer, they either pushed them down or struck them in some fashion in order to escape.”

Rafford said the use of force elevates shoplifting to robbery.

“By law, it becomes robbery at that point,” Rafford said. “If you factor out the shoplifting cases, we have actually had a decrease in robberies year to date.”

In addition to decreasing crime rates, the latest statistics put ACPD’s closure rates way above the state average. According to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, the average crime closure rate for 2011 was 23 percent.

For 2012, ACPD is currently closing 64 percent of all cases.

“We will continue to work to be proactive and stay on top of ways to prevent crime,” Rafford said. “Can we ever get crimes down to zero? I would love to see that, but it probably won’t happen. Realistically, you will always have crimes occurring where you have human beings living.”