Columbus crime rate declines in 2019 compared to previous five years

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Columbus police share some new statistics when it comes to the city’s crime rate. The image below shows felony arrests from 2015 to 2019.

Murder, armed robbery, and assaults. These are crimes that have seen a steady decline in the last half decade.

“My officers are out there doing their job. They have integrity. They’re doing the right thing. They’re making things happen and the statistics show it,” said Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton.

When Chief Shelton took over as the top cop he said his plans were to make the department more effective, efficient, and proactive. One way that’s happened Shelton says is having more eyes on the city.

“Our officers are more visible. They’re doing foot patrols, business checks. They’re coming in contact with the community more. And what’s happening there is information is being shared that helps us solve a crime or can help prevent a crime,” said Chief Shelton.

In 2016 Columbus had 10 murders. That number has dropped down to two this year.

Armed robberies have went down from it’s highest of 50 to 7 this year. Another perk on the downward trend police believe is the city having its own crime lab.

“Just the fact that you’re not waiting a year to get results back, your finger print identification back. You’re waiting two or three weeks then you’re getting that individual off the street, and hopefully preventing them from committing whatever crime they’re inclined to commit,” said Crime Lab Dir. Austin Shepherd.

Crime Lab Director Austin Shepherd says they’re working on a regional database that in the long run could have a bigger impact in solving crimes.

“Criminals, people who commit crimes typically aren’t locked into one area. They’re going to move from city to city, place to place. In this instance it’s good to be able to search a database of individuals from say Starkville, West Point, Aberdeen, or Tuscaloosa,” said Shepherd.

Community involvement has also played a major factor. The old “see something, say something” we hear Chief Shelton preach, he says had paid off in a big way.

The downfall in crime is something both Shelton and Shepherd say the entire Friendly City should be proud of.

“It’s the officers, but it’s the community. The community is standing up and getting behind the department and working with us,” said Chief Shelton.

“Everyone’s taking a part. They’re interacting with law enforcement, we’re leveraging technology, we’re learning new way to solve and prevent crime. It’s really an achievement for the entire city and county,” said Shepherd.

Auto burglaries did see an increase and police say 90% of those involved cars that were left unlocked.

Police stress that especially during the holiday shopping season, to make sure your cars are locked.

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