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TBI: State crime rate down

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:50 PM

Tennessee’s crime rate is down, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s 2013 Crime in Tennessee report released Tuesday.

The annual study compiles data reported from each law enforcement agency in the state, which in turn provides an updated and comprehensive list of successes and challenges facing every community in the state.

Within the report’s findings, there were several different points worth noting.

Overall, reported incidents dropped in the Group A (counted by offenses) category by 5.4 percent and incidents in the Group B (counted by arrestees) category dropped 7.6 percent.

Additionally, the number of reported DUI arrests dropped by 10 percent since the 2012 report and reported murders decreased by more than 18 percent.

It was also noted that domestic violence offenses made up for 51 percent of all “crimes against persons.”

However, weapon law violations increased by 29.5 percent in 2013. Reports of methamphetamine labs also showed an 11 percent increase from 2012.

“We’re extremely thankful for our dedicated law enforcement partners,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “Together, they helped us compile a thorough snapshot of crime in Tennessee. We now hope every department takes this information and works to further address the key crime issues facing their communities and our state.”

Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen said the department stays updated constantly on local crime.

“Obviously our primary function is the prevention of crime and there’s a lot of things we do that contribute to keeping crime low,” Bowen said. “We monitor crime daily and submit monthly reports to the city council and also do a year-by-year comparison.”

From 2012 to the 2013 report, Bowen said burglaries were down 23 percent, rapes were down 22 percent, robberies were down 21 percent and simple assaults were down 26 percent.

“Overall most of the categories, especially the violent crimes, which are the main ones we watch, were down from the year before,” Bowen said. “I think that’s something we can really be proud of but we also want to continue to work at.”

One category, however, that remained the same this year was the number of homicides.

“We had two this year and two the year before and in all of them they were drug- and/or gang-related,” Bowen said. “So in the future we hope to get back to the no homicide trend we’ve had in years before.”

Bowen said communication is key in the department.

“We monitor crime and meet daily to talk about what happened the day or night before and talk major crimes, and then we make sure we disseminate that information to all the officers to make sure everyone gets the information and knows what’s going on in the city and especially in their designated zones,” Bowen said.

Proactive policing and citizen involvement in preventing crimes are other topics that Bowen said is crucial.

“We feel we can prevent these crimes by being more proactive and having extra patrols and things like that,” Bowen said. “A big thing to have in effect is also citizen involvement in crime prevention, whether it’s neighborhood watch, the citizen police academy or public service messages, it’s all vitally important.”

Adding a program with Lebanon public housing has also helped decrease crime rates, Bowen said.

“We’ve got two officers over there full-time, and it used to be a lot of violent crimes were happening there but now those are drastically down,” Bowen said. “I can’t say enough about public housing and the people living there and the officers that have contributed to lower the crime over there.”

Between taking a proactive policing approach within patrols, citizens’ involvement and additional programs and people stepping up for crime prevention, Bowen said the results from the previous year looked good.

“All in all, I’m very pleased.”

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