BRPD: Total 'major crimes' decreased again in 2012

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 8:48pm

Crime numbers in Baton Rouge have either gotten better, worse, or stayed the same, because there are several ways to look at the final 2012 stats released by the Baton Rouge Police Department Monday.

BRPD believes changes from year to year are generally so small, they hold little meaning. But combining several years of data gives them a real trend.

The number of major crimes submitted by the department to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report dropped by 3.65 percent in 2012, to 14,755.

That number was 22,100 as recently as 2000, with declines in nine of the last 12 years.

"That's pretty significant," said Lt. Don Kelly of the BRPD. "There are a lot of cities in America that would love to have a record like that to point to. Now, does it mean that we're gotten to where we want to be as a city? Absolutely not."

The department did not identify one particular reason why crime went down, but cited several potential factors, including increased street patrols and ways for officers to save time.

"We have streamlined our booking process," Kelly stated, "so that it takes much less time now for our officers to put someone in jail than it used to."

Property crimes, things like burglary and car theft, provided the majority of the decrease. But crimes against people such as murder, rape, and robbery, rose slightly.

"Our murder rate is much too high for a city this size," Kelly acknowledged, "and so we continue to try to look for things to attack that problem. But when you look at all of the other crimes that don't get quite so much attention, the long-term trend in almost every category is downward."

BRPD's clearance rate declined from 2011 to 2012, but the department is still better than average at solving cases. It credits good detectives, as well as cooperation from the community. And it thinks programs like BRAVE in the 70805 zip code will help even more in the years to come.

"The people who are working in that area continue to try to develop relationships with the community, identify the key players in that area, and focus on that particular problem," Kelly said.

The department asks for even more help in the future. It sees the murder rate was virtually unchanged from 2011, it hears the criticism.

"There's not a city in America that's ever solved the crime problem," Kelly said. "It's always going to be there.

"And it's difficult to ask people to be patient when they're living in areas where they're plagued by crime. But rest assured that the police department, the district attorney's office, the mayor's office, the sheriff's office, all of the responsible parties are aware that the situation is serious, and we're trying to put as many resources on it as we can."

Kelly said that while BRAVE is a high-profile program involving multiple city agencies, people should not view it as an instant solution to the problems ailing the city.

"Crime is something that's been around for a while," he said. "The situation that we've gotten ourselves into in this city with the murders and with the violence didn't just occur overnight. It's not going to be solved overnight."

Perhaps the simplest explanation for the reduction in crime over the years: the increase in officers.

Thirty three trainees are almost ready to deployed into the field, while another 30 just began their academy last week.

To view the complete report, click on the attachment at the bottom of this article. Critics say the UCR is imperfect because it lists only reported crimes; does not include child abuse; and defines rape as solely between a man and a woman. 

02-25-13 2012 Crime Stats Released.pdf21.04 KB

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