Latest stats show drop in area crime

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / January 27, 1999

LAPLACE – Crime dropped 24 percent in St. John the Baptist Parish from1997 to 1998 according to statistics just released by Sheriff Wayne L. Jones.

The report shows a drop from 2,405 instances in 1997 to 1,827 in 1998, and included, during the past year, drops in four of the seven major crime categories.

Jones credits increased patrols, 22 additional patrol deputies and an increase from eight to 12 deputies per shift.

“Look for more of the same,” Jones advised Monday. “We’re trying toaccomplish a safe and clean parish.”Even so, the 1998 results also indicate increases in robberies and assaults from the year previous, and the final quarter indicated a slight increase from the previous quarter.

Those robbery and assault increases were due largely to the seasonal increases in such crimes during the Christmas holidays. However, incrimes against property, such as burglary, theft and auto theft, reported instances took a substantial drop.

Jones was also delighted in a cut in criminal homicides from 1997 to 1998, from nine instances to three.

In other categories, the findings were this: forcible rape up from two to four; robbery up 39 percent, from 19 to 31; assaults up 6 percent, from 376 to 398; burglary down 29 percent, from 694 to 492; larceny/theft down 33 percent, from 1,153 to 770; and motor vehicle theft down 24 percent, from 152 to 129 instances.

During the final quarter of 1998 there were no homicides or rapes, seven robberies, 105 assaults, 139 burglaries, 185 thefts and 33 motor vehicle thefts. That compared to the prior quarter where there were one homicide,no rapes, seven robberies, 95 assaults, 129 burglaries, 199 thefts and 28 motor vehicle thefts.

“The final quarter saw property crimes going up,” Lt. Michael Tregre,department spokesman, observed, adding the occasional robberies of foreign seamen were a problem.

As to the increase in assaults, Jones noted, “If there’s any evidence of physical abuse, they go to jail – that’s why that’s up.” He also noteddomestic violence was apparently up.

During 1998, total crime instances took a roller-coaster ride. The firstquarter was the lowest, with 344 instances. However, the second quartersaw a sharp jump to 555 instances, with increases in every category but rape, which stayed the same at two instances.

The third quarter had a total of 459 instances, with cuts in every one of the seven categories. The fourth quarter saw increases in threecategories, including assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

In April through June this year, Jones said all deputies on patrol will have to make two citizen contacts per shift and ask them for their input as to problem areas in their neighborhoods in an attempt to increase police visibility, communication with the public and attacking crime at the source.

Jones also noted he sees no decrease in the volume of speeding in subdivisions, almost invariably by local people hurrying through their own neighborhoods.

As a result, and as an attempt to increase visibility of his patrol officers, Jones said he is mandating “getting off Airline Highway” and into the subdivisions.

Jones also observed he is delighted with the activity of drug court, which is expediting drug cases through the system and backing him up with stiff sentences. “There no more revolving door,” he said. “They’re beingsentenced to substantial time. It’s the same knuckleheads committing thesame crimes.”

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