Crime declines in city


By Philip Sayblack
Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New crime statistics released by the Rocky Mount Police Department reveal the city is the safest it has been in decades.

Police Chief James Moore presented the numbers at the city council's Committee of the Whole Meeting. According to a report that is now available online, Rocky Mount had its lowest number of violent crimes reported last year since 1989 and the lowest number of property crimes reported in 40 years.

It adds the city's overall crime rate has declined for five consecutive years and is at its lowest point since 1977. That makes the trend the city's longest ongoing drop to date.

Moore said he was glad he could share the figures with the council and the public.

"I am thrilled to report that we, police department employees and partnering citizens, achieved five consecutive years of overall Part I Crime reductions, the longest continuous crime drop on record, and it is at the lowest level since 1977," Moore said. "We achieved historic crime lows in 2016. Lifelong Rocky Mount residents under 40 years of age — or two generations — have not lived in a year in Rocky Mount with less crime than in 2016."

Moore added those numbers were achieved while the department decreased its use of force in call responses.

"I am extremely proud that we were able to obtain historic crime reductions while reducing our utilization of force — I.E. taser, O.C. spray, impact weapons, firearms and physical," Moore said. "In 2011, police department employees had 118 utilizations of force. During the past five years, we reduced force utilizations to 41, a 65.3 percent decrease. The 41 incidents of force utilization is the lowest number of incidents since 1998. Our police officers' dedication to providing respectful, fair and constitutional policing services enhanced our police authority legitimacy granted to us by our citizens, which resulted in less resistance."

According to the report, homicides fell by 69 percent from 2015 to 2016. Rapes fell 13 percent in the same span. Individual robberies and aggravated assaults fell by 3 percent. Commercial robberies rose from 27 incidents to 36 — a 33 percent increase. The combined figures resulted in a 3 percent overall decrease in the number of violent crimes reported during 2016 in Rocky Mount.

Violent crimes also decreased, according to the report. Property crimes fell by 9 percent, with burglaries and breaking and entering falling by 8 percent overall. That included a 14 percent decline in commercial burglaries and breaking and enterings and a decrease of 11 percent in residential burglaries and breaking and enterings.

While each category decreased year to year, there were increases in other reported crimes. Non-residential burglaries and breaking and entering increased 46 percent, and motor vehicle thefts increased by 29 percent. Arsons increased slightly from eight in 2015 to 12 in 2016 for a 50 percent increase.

Despite the specific increases, the city's overall property crime rate declined 9 percent from 2015 to 2016. The decrease in violent and property crimes combined for an 8 percent overall reduction in Part I crimes. Part I crimes include all of the noted categories.

The property and violent crime reductions are just some of the report’s highlights. It also states Part I Crimes overall have noticeably fallen in Rocky Mount during the past 10 years. Moore said all of the report’s positive numbers show crime reduction is possible in any city.

“A well-trained, professionally managed police department with compassionate police officers can reduce violent crime while reducing citizen complaints and its use of force,” Moore said. “How do I know it can be done? Because the Rocky Mount Police Department did it.”