0

Theft-related crimes decline by 46 percent in 2013

Information provided by Clayton County Police Department.

Information provided by Clayton County Police Department.

photo

Greg Porter

JONESBORO — By the end of November, theft-related crimes in Clayton County had dropped a cumulative 45.9 percent over 2012’s numbers, said Police Chief Greg Porter.

Overall, crime was down nearly 11 percent, surpassing Porter’s goal of 10 percent.

As he enters his fourth year as chief, Porter said he is proud of the strides the department of nearly 400 sworn personnel has made under his leadership.

“I’ve changed the image and operational philosophies of the department,” he said. “I’m proud of the men and women of the police department. It took a unified effort by each and every one in the department to get us to this point. Over the past 39 months, we’ve worked diligently to meet the goal of reducing crime.”

Of the eight crimes tracked by FBI, Porter said he is most pleased with the burglary numbers. Since 2010 when he took over as chief, burglaries in Clayton County have continued to decline, from 3,854 to 3,458 in 2011, to 3,451 in 2012 and 2,888 for the first 11 months of 2013.

“Burglaries had been most problematic,” he said. “We’ve improved patrolling techniques, good supervision and re-trained officers. All that has contributed a lot to a reduction in the numbers. We have a robust crime-fighting attitude as it relates to crime in general.”

Cumulatively, theft-related crime is down. In addition to burglaries, robberies are down 11.3 percent from 2012, thefts are down 9.6 percent from last year and vehicle thefts decreased by 8.7 percent.

Another decision Porter made when he took over was divide the county from two halves into four sectors. Clayton is the third smallest county in the state but houses about 260,000 residents, making it Georgia’s fifth-most densely populated county.

“It’s worked out well for us,” he said. “Even residents know which sector they live in. That promotes ownership and cohesiveness between the police and residents. When we can successfully knit that together, the collaboration means we come together as a community.”

The TITAN program, in operation since August 2011, helps track crimes within those four sectors. Shift supervisors can access the graphics created in-house by Sgt. Rich LeCates, assistant commander of the Targeted Investigations Through Analysis of Networks.

Capt. Richard Lavallie is commander of the unit, which includes crime analyst Lakisha Noble. When the watch commander over each sector begins his or her shift, TITAN graphics can help determine how many officers need to be patrolling a certain area during a certain time of day.

Lavallie said the entire program has been written in-house with no outside software purchased.

“With the crime mapping, we get to see visually what’s going on,” he said. “It saves us gas and time. With this information, the supervisors know without a doubt where to put folks, by looking at the types of crimes and the day of the week and the watch where they are being committed.”

Porter said all those factors have come together to create a more effective crime-fighting formula for Clayton County.

“We’re trying to show we’re a different police department, in terms of ideology and overall commitment,” he said. “We’re focused on Community-Oriented Policing, crime-oriented and intelligence-driven policy. We’ve netted profound results as the result of cobbling these three things together.”

Deputies with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office have also helped in providing the patrol visibility needed to deter certain types of crimes. Sometimes the mere presence of a law enforcement vehicle can send criminals in a different direction, he said.

“The sheriff’s office has worked hand in hand with the police department, especially in saturating of certain areas that are potential crime areas,” said Porter. “The visibility and presence of deputies along with the police department augment our efforts to be as visible as possible. I commend all the men and women who are dedicated to the cause.”

Not all the crime numbers are positive, however. Homicides have almost tripled since 2010, from 11 to 28 for the first 11 months of 2013. Rapes, which held steady in 2010 and 2011 at 72, dipped to 55 in 2012 only to climb to 75 last year. Aggravated assaults are also up to 552 from last year’s 499. In 2010, there were 476 reported aggravated assault cases followed by 434 in 2011. Arsons are up slightly, from last year’s 25 to 2013’s 28, but down from 2010’s 32 reported cases.

Porter said those types of crimes are harder to combat because they typically involve domestic violence, people who know each other and aren’t driven by the economy or opportunity but human behavior.

“About 70 percent of aggravated assaults involve an assailant known to the victim,” he said. “Domestic-types of crimes are hard to control.”

Porter said his department’s goal is to make Clayton County residents feel as safe as possible.

“We’re on the job and we’re doing the best we can to make sure everyone feels safe,” he said. “We have good relationships with the media and businesses, faith-based community, schools, homeowners associations and civic clubs. All those relationships help us to be even more successful with fighting crime.”