Across the board, the frequency of sexual crimes and arsons in Stephens County decreased in 2012 compared to 2011 while other offenses such as the number of homicides increased across the county.
Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said the offenses such as sexual crimes and arson were due, in part, to proactive measures taken by the police department such as offering help to those in dangerous home environments and training a detective in arson investigation to investigate and arrest those involved.
The Duncan Police Department reported 14 cases of rape for 2012 compared to the 19 cases in 2011.
“As a society, we have became more sensitized to that,” Ford said. “There has been more heightened awareness of it. I think it has heightened everybody’s awareness to the point that prosecution has done some good.”
Six reports of arson in 2011 dwindled to only three cases in 2012.
“We have trained someone in arson investigation,” Ford said. “He works closely with the fire department investigating those situations.”
Other crimes in Duncan that saw a decrease in 2012 was aggravated assault with 59 cases in 2012 compared to 60 cases in 2011 and burglary with 289 cases reported in 2012 and 314 cases in 2011.
“We have to continue to let people know what their rights are and let people know there are ways out of those situations.
We did well. We can always improve. We think we have done pretty well.”
Duncan residents mourned losses after two homicides last year compared to zero in 2011.
“At least, one was them out of a domestic situation,” Ford said. “Obviously, those are sometimes the deadliest.”
The number of simple assaults increased by 29 reports with 260 in 2011 and 289 in 2012. The number of larceny reports increased by 60 with 2011’s 676 reports jumping to 736 in 2012. The 48 reports of stolen vehicles was an increase of three over 2011’s reports.
Ford said the Duncan Police Department would continue to take proactive measures against crimes in the coming year especially domestic cases to help the numbers of rape and homicide related to domestic disturbances decrease.
“We have to continue to let people know what their rights are and let people know there are ways out of those situations,” he said.
With the increases and decreases in crime fairly balanced within the police department, Ford said he thinks overall 2012 was a good year within the department.
“We did well,” he said. “We can always improve but I think we have done pretty well.”
Similar to the numbers produced by the Duncan Police Department, the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office also saw a decrease in the number of arson reports with eight cases reported in 2011, which dropped to three cases in 2012. There were 21 reports of sexual crimes within the county in 2012 compared to the 22 reports in 2011.
Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks said educational programs put together by law enforcement and the community continue to help raise awareness on the damage sexual crimes can cause, which may explain the slight decrease in these offenses.
“I think it is a combination of law enforcement agencies working together to get the word out,” he said. “There are more educational programs. There are organizations like Women’s Haven and victim witness programs like the one in my office. It has become more of a focus for law enforcement.”
The number of burglaries, larcenies and thefts dropped significantly with only 243 cases in 2012 after 284 cases were reported in 2011. There were three less cases of auto theft in 2012 with 18 reports.
Eleven more reports of assaults and domestics were reported resulting in 94 cases in 2012 over the 83 cases in 2011.
As in the case of Duncan Police Department, the number of homicides reported also increased within the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office.
Hicks said the increase in these violent crimes such as homicide could related to increased drug use in addition to other factors.
In my analysis of what is going on inside the county and my district, I think there are several factors involved here,” Hicks said. “One of them is the flow of narcotics and the way the drug flow has changed over the last 10 to 15 years. We are seeing an increase of methamphetamine flowing into the county and the district from Mexico. About 95 percent of the meth we deal with is a Mexican methamphetamine. It is ice. I think it has a lot of impact on what we are seeing and what we are dealing with.”
Hicks also said the economic conditions since 2008 that has placed additional strain on families could also be impacting these numbers.
There were two homicides reported to the sheriff’s office in 2012 compared to the one homicide reported in 2011.