"Thanks to the hard work of Chief Hitt and the Jackson Police Department my last three years as mayor have seen a 13 percent reduction in overall crime. Those three years have seen the lowest crime rates in more than 30 years. Just last year, we've seen a 14 percent decrease in calls for service and a four percent reduction in overall crime," Dobies said.
Jackson Police Department Director Elmer Hitt says that the city's most serious crimes, what the city calls "part I crimes," dropped between 2019 and 2020, while less serious crimes, "part II crimes," increased.
"I can tell you just looking over the past five years and certainly comparing 2020 to year-end 2019, there was a decrease in part I crimes actually a small increase in part II crimes, but overall when you combine the two overall crime was down from '19 to '20."
Part I crimes include murder, criminal sexual conduct, robbery, aggravated assault, and arson. Part II crimes are offenses such as fraud, embezzlement, and disturbing the peace.
According to data from the city of Jackson website, there was a 19 percent decrease in part I crimes and a two percent increase in part II crimes combining for a 4 percent decrease in overall crime between 2019 and 2020.
There was a 50 percent increase in murder, going from four cases to six between 2019 and 2020 and a 10 percent increase in aggravated assault from 208 cases in 2019 to 228 cases in 2020.
On the flip side, forgery was down 73 percent, and fraud saw a 75 percent decrease.
Jackson police say that a decrease in crimes last year was due to several factors, with COVID playing a significant part. Hitt said overall calls for service or dispatches were down significantly. Staffing levels were affected by COVID, as well at least for the first four to five months of the pandemic.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the department "put out a directive that general traffic enforcement was really put at a halt early on of not stopping cars for routine traffic violations," Hitt said. "Certainly suspected drivers operating impaired and things of that nature we were still making stops. But, a lot of our proactive traffic enforcement was really shut down for a few months early on due to COVID. Some of that came into play with the county jail changing the lodging criteria for what type of crimes they would lodge."
There was one crime police responded to much more often in 2020: confirmed shootings.
"In 2020, we were actually down in the number of victims, so the people who were struck by a bullet. It was down in 2020. But, the number of confirmed shootings was up quite a bit. That one kind of puzzles me a little bit. We had a reduction in the number of victims yet the overall number of confirmed shootings where we can say, 'Yes, that was gunfire'" was up quite a bit," Hitt said.
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