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Keeping score: Violent crime in Decatur increased over the last four months


Keeping score: Violent crime in Decatur increased over the last four months


Decatur Police, like most police departments, collect and publish uniform crime reports. The reports several types of crimes, the ones most-likely to be reported to police.

In Decatur, the UCR categories are:

Violent crimes: Homicide, Rape, Robbery and Aggravated Assaults

Nonviolent crimes: Burglary, Larceny, Motor Vehicle Theft

Police Sgt. Jennifer Ross sent over UCR data for 2013 and the last four months – August through November – show that while property crimes have decreased, the number of violent crimes has increased. Let’s take a look at the numbers.


As we’re all aware, Shirley Kendrick’s murder in October was the city’s first recorded homicide since 2010. Her grandson has been arrested and charged with her murder. Because the number of homicides in 2012 was 0 and the crime was a domestic incident, that number doesn’t reflect any broader patterns.

The others statistics are a bit more worrisome. The aggravated assault increase isn’t huge in terms of numbers, but is still 300 percent more than the same four month period in 2012. The increase in robberies also isn’t a shocking statistic on its own. There were three more robberies in the same four month period in 2013, which represents about a 43 percent increase.

Burglaries also are up. The number of motor vehicle thefts is the one I find most interesting. What could be the reason they declined by almost 70 percent?

There’s generally more awareness of crime this year, with the much-discussed crime wave (or lack thereof) this past summer. Police are encouraging people to call and make reports. If people are making more calls and generating more police reports, that would make those numbers go up. Police have also issued several press releases about thefts from auto, with some common sense advice: don’t leave electronics in your car, lock your doors, etc. It could be that people are listening to that advice and the crooks are moving on to other opportunities.

So we have a pattern that shows an increase in four out of the seven UCR categories. If we’re keeping score here, it looks like crime trends aren’t headed in the direction that we’d like to see. But it could mean that there’s more crime getting reported, which is a good thing, generally speaking.

I’ve asked about call volume numbers just to see how many times the police department’s phone is ringing each month. That’s a detail that will provide some additional context for these numbers.

I would say the good news is Decatur’s crime rate is much lower than it is in Zone 6, the Atlanta Police zone covering East Lake and Kirkwood, but that would be total bullshit. Crime doesn’t respect city boundaries. What happens in Kirkwood affects what happens here and vice versa. You can see the Zone 6 UCR data by clicking here. The crime rates in the violent crime categories in Zone 6 are on the rise in 2013, compared with 2012, with the exception of aggravated assault, which is down about 18 percent.

The bottom line for Decatur is that crime has increased over the last four months compared with the same four months in 2012. I’ll be interested to see December’s numbers. Having two whole years’ worth of data will be good for getting a sense of what the broader trends might be.

If you have any follow-up questions you’d like me to ask Sgt. Ross, please let me know in the comments.