Increases in almost every category of violent crimes in June drove the monthly crime statistics up by just over 10 percent compared to June 2017, though overall reported crimes are down significantly for the year compared to 2017, according to Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant.
Speaking at the monthly Coffee with the Chiefs, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration and held at Southeast Arkansas College Tuesday, Sergeant said there were 402 crimes reported in June, or 37 more than for June 2017, marking a 10.14 percent increase.
But through the first six months of this year, a total of 2,151 crimes have been reported compared to 4,696 for the same period in 2017, or a 54.20 percent decline.
“The stats this month are not as sexy as they have been in the past,” Sergeant said, adding that although the numbers were up in June, there were 425 reported crimes in May, or 23 less than the previous month when crime went up by less than one percentage point.
Looking at specific categories, there were 40 aggravated assaults in June, eight more than in June 2017. Simple assaults also increased from 114 in June 2017 to 128 last month, and rapes and attempted rapes jumped from one in June 2017 to 10 last month.
In June, Sergeant said the department would be reducing the number of officers assigned to the annual Police and Youth Day Camp for kids, which ends this week, and putting more officers on the streets.
He said additional officers have been assigned to the Violent Crimes Task Force and the men and women assigned there are “working daily to try to stop some of these crimes. Their focus is directly on some of the people we know are involved in violent crimes. We’re going to continue to look at the numbers and tweak it so that we can have personnel where we need them to be.”
There were two murders in June, the same number as in June 2017 but, as Sergeant noted, at this time last year, there had been 13 murders reported compared to the eight the city has recorded so far in 2018. Overall in 2017, 28 murders were reported.
“A lot of people think violent crimes are driven by homicides,” Sergeant said. “Some people think we don’t care who gets killed but it bothers us and we’re going to get out there and hustle and do what we can to try and solve those homicides and bring closure to the family.”
While crimes against persons showed increases in June, property-related crimes particularly residential burglaries went down. There were 44 reported residential burglaries last month compared to 56 in June 2017. Commercial burglaries stayed the same with 14 in both June 2017 and 2018. Reported thefts increased from 100 in June 2017 to 124 last month while reported motor vehicle thefts dropped from 36 to 29.