St. Charles crime hits record low

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE-Crime in St. Charles Parish took a 7 percent fall in the first quarter of 2005, compared with the stats from the same time during 2004, according to reports released by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The report, in which the quarter dates are marked by January to March 2005, showed the Uniform Crime Report totals for the quarter were 528 incidents, down from 569 last year.

According to Sheriff Greg C. Champagne, this is the best quarter in his nine years in office.

Though there was a slight increase in the amount of both auto thefts and burglary, theft reports showed a 14 percent decease, and robberies were down by almost half.

No rapes were reported this quarter, down from two last year, and there were 166 assaults, compared with 180 the previous year . Murder did not change, with one murder reported each year.

According to the reports, crime has been on a steady decline in St. Charles Parish since 1997, when the total number of crimes reported for that year stood at 2,777. The overall number recorded for the last year was 2,407 crimes.

Champagne attributes the reduction to a combination of factors that he said have “kicked in over time,” such as high visibility of police officers and public help.

“If you cross through our parish, you will see two or three deputy cars,” Champagne said.

“We also have good response time, people are not hesitant to call us if they feel there is a problem.

Technology has also helped. Champagne said the computers that are now in the cop cars help his patrolman to be more pro-active.

“We know what happened, on what beat, and what areas we need to target,” he said.

From 2001 to 2002, there was a substantial drop in crimes, with the overall yearly crimes reported falling by 194 incidents. Champagne credits this with the opening of the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that crime dropped as the jail became open.

You had all those non-violent people being booked and then routinely released and that stopped with the facility.”

Champagne said that automobile incidents is what he believes his department can do better with. He said the burglaries that are reported are mostly not on residences or businesses, but on cars.

He encourages the public to lock up their vehicles and pay attention to what they are leaving behind, such as purses, cell phones and guns.

“People need to get the stuff out of their cars that are targeted by thieves,” Champagne said, “They will not be interested in getting in if there is nothing to get to.”