Crime incidents down in 2002

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003


LAPLACE – Sheriff Wayne L. Jones looked back to a successful year in trying to keep a handle on crime in St. John the Baptist Parish during 2002. In releasing his year-end report, he noted in his seven years, six of those years showed a reduction in the incidence of crime.

The total for 2002 was 1,570 incidents, which is an improvement from 2001’s 1,616 instances.

Most of that, Jones ascribed to the work of his deputies, especially the Felony Intercept Unit, which is a strike-force directed mostly against drug-related crime. Jones reported a 3 percent reduction in the overall crime statistics for St. John Parish, the most significant increase being an 8 percent increase in theft.

Homicide went from two instances to six during 2002, but four of those were the David Roy case in Garyville, in which Roy allegedly confessed to killing his wife and three children.

The other two homicides were each drug-related, Jones said.

Jones said additionally that from 1990 to 1996, there were 57 homicides in the parish. In the years since Jones’s taking office in mid-1996, there have been 27 homicides.

“I hope it continues in that trend,” Jones said.

Forcible rape increased from three to seven instances in the past year but as with homicide, there is little the sheriff’s office can do to affect those numbers beyond educating potential rape victims and flushing street-level drug crimes out of the parish.

The instance of robberies also increased from 44 to 48, but Jones is optimistic that with more pressure on drug crime, that number will fall during 2003.

Meanwhile, burglaries dropped from 257 to 207 instances, assaults dropped from 450 to 427 instances and auto theft dropped from 170 to 129 instances.

“Do we have a safer community? The statistics say we do,” Jones said.

Problems remain to find funds to sustain his continued efforts to expand manpower and sagging sales tax receipts in the parish will need a boost for his efforts to place more deputies on the streets to deter crime.

A newly acquired computer program, funded by a $20,000 grant, will also help the sheriff’s office to target problem areas swiftly, so that each shift will be able to know exactly where the problems are when they arrive.