By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Violent crime in Clovis was up last year almost 12 percent from 2004, according to a Clovis Police Department annual report released Wednesday.
The number of violent crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault rose from 267 in 2004 to 298 in 2005, or an average of six a week.
The number of felony crimes stayed virtually the same.
Aggravated assaults accounted for the largest percentage of violent crimes, with 223 reported in 2005.
Meanwhile, the number of homicides dropped from 10 in 2004 to two, and rapes declined from 47 to 39.
Clovis Deputy Police Chief Dan Blair said a variety of factors can play into the statistics, with alcohol, illegal drugs, domestic violence and gang activity all potential underlying contributors. Educating police officers and the public is important to combating those issues, according to Blair.
“Statistics go up and down. It’s just something that’s unpredictable,” he said.
“I wish they were all zeroes — that we didn’t have any of these crimes. That would be the best thing for this community,” Blair said.
He credits a stronger police force and higher visibility over the past year with some of the reduction in crime rates.
Blair said his department has worked to increase manpower over the last year and is now fully staffed.
“We were down and now we’re catching back up. This year we have taken progressive steps,” he said.
The data contained in the CPD report is submitted to the FBI annually and used in the Uniform Crime Report, according to Lt. Jim Schoeffel, public information officer.
Violent crime rates were down nationally by half a percentage point from 2004, according to the preliminary 2005 Uniform Crime Report, issued by the FBI in December.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler linked much of the criminal activity to drugs. He said by attacking the narcotics issues in Clovis, police and prosecutors are curbing felony crime rates.
“Property crimes statistically are a sign of narcotic use. If an individual is using drugs, statistics show that when they becoming desperate they will steal property. We have less property crime than we’ve had in the last five years,” Chandler said.
Chandler said with a joint effort directed against narcotic use in the community by the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement, he expects to see a continued drop in crime statistics.
“The more successful we are with drug programs, the safer the community will be,” he said.