Crime rate steady

May 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm

*posted May 12, 2010
LC crime up less than 1 percent in 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Statistics for 2009 released Tuesday by the Lake Charles Police Department show a less than 1 percent increase in crime. This follows a decrease in 2008 of 15.7 percent. “I knew we’d be up this year, but (it’s) really less than I thought it would be,” said Police Chief Don Dixon.

“We would love to be able to show a dramatic decrease every year, but we indicated that it was going to be difficult to do that next year,” said Mayor Randy Roach.

There was an increase in all violent and property crimes except auto theft. There were six homicides in 2008; there were 11 in 2009. The number of rapes by force went up from 42 in 2008 to 47 in 2009; robberies increased from 169 in 2008 to 224 in 2009; and assaults and batteries went up from 1,430 in 2008 to 1,454 in 2009.

Property crimes increased 10.2 percent, from 5,077 in 2008 to 5,596 in 2009.

“I think this is a reflection of what’s going on, not only here locally in our economy but nationally,” Dixon said, noting the trend of crime increasing during tough economic times.

Burglary was up 22.7 percent; larceny and theft up 4.6 percent; auto theft down 9.4 percent; and arson up 25 percent.

Dixon noted that daily reports from the first three months of the year indicated an increase in these crimes.

TO HEAR AUDIO FROM THE NEWS CONFERENCE, CLICK HERE.

Other criminal offenses — including property damage, DWI, disturbing the peace and trespassing — were down 9.9 percent.

Officials presented a breakdown of crime by 19 beats, or sections, of the city.
Across the board, Beat 6 reported the most violent and property crimes.

It is bordered by Broad Street to the north, First Avenue to the west, 12th Street to the south and Gerstner Memorial Drive to the east.

The computer-generated statistics are used to target areas like Beat 6 and assign officers to them.

“These officers don’t answer any calls while on duty; they just focus on these hot spots,” Dixon said.

He described an upward trend in juvenile arrests as “disturbing.” There was a 26.3 percent increase from 2008 to 2009.

“Some of the issues students are facing at home and school are the root of this criminal activity,” Roach said.

He said a May 6 meeting of residents and law officers at LaGrange High School was a good example of how parents can be proactive.

At the meeting, city and parish officials discussed signs and behaviors parents should watch for in their children.

“We want to keep doing things like this to make sure parents are aware of the problem and to give them the opportunity to be involved,” Roach said.

“We’re kind of now in a society that accepts violence, when you see the violent video games, the music and the attitude of ‘no snitching,’ ” Dixon said. “There is a change of attitude and it disturbs me, but it starts at home.”

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