Stats reveal crime drop in St. John Parish

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2011



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Wayne Jones said Wednesday that despite increases in three specific categories, crime in the parish experienced an overall drop for the second straight year, according to FBI crime figures

The stats show that crime was down by about 17 percent in St. John in 2010 compared to 2009. Jones said he was pleased with the figures, but added that there is still work that needs to be done.

“When our figures were released last year we showed decreases across the board, and we want to continue that trend,” Jones said. “We are staying focused on being out in the community and addressing areas of concern in the parish.”

The FBI annually releases crime figures in seven categories nationwide: homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, assault and auto theft. The figures from St. John show that total offenses fell from 1,776 to 1,466 in 2010. The parish also experienced a drop in the number of calls received by the Sheriff’s Office from 40,835 to 38,195.

The largest decreases were in motor vehicle theft, which was down about 36 percent, petty theft, which was down about 23 percent, and robbery, which was down 21 percent. The parish showed increases in burglaries, which went up from 287 in 2009 to 330 in 2010, and rapes, which went up from four cases in 2009 to six in 2010.

The parish also experienced an increase in murder. After recording five homicides in 2009, the parish had six in 2010, including the Dec. 5 beating death of 15-year-old LaPlace resident Taylor Adams, who was found dead inside her home.

Three days after the murder was discovered, authorities arrested 27-year-old Earnest Joseph III, who lived a few doors down from Adams. Investigators said the two knew each other but have not released other information.

Despite the rise in homicides in 2010, Jones said the figures are still showing less than previous years. He said homicides were at 11 in 2008 and regularly averaged between eight and 10 in previous years.

“Obviously you want the number to be zero, but it is encouraging to me and to the deputies on the streets,” Jones said. “I want to make sure we continue to get out and solve every crime that occurs in the parish.”

Jones said he is concerned about an apparent increase in crime committed by juveniles. He said a lack of adequate after-school activities in the parish is part of the problem.

“It really seems that there are too many juveniles running around with no real supervision,” Jones said. “I wish we had more places where kids can go that would keep them off the streets in the afternoons.”

Jones said he wants to work with the school system and churches to give children safer places to hang out after leaving school.

Jones also said he is seeing an increase in community involvement when it comes to solving crimes in the parish. He said his department is establishing a greater trust with the community and more residents are willing to talk and help report information.

“We have gotten stronger on repeat offenders, and there is no longer time wasted in the court system,” Jones said. “Once they get in, they don’t get out, and the residents appreciate that.”