WorkingBy ANTHONY WARREN,
Revamped Precinct Four beats result in crime downswing.
A plan implemented seven years ago to reduce crime on the Northside has apparently paid off.
In 2012, the Jackson Police Department (JPD) created a new beat structure in Precinct Four, essentially dividing in half two of the busiest territories and increasing the number of beats in the area from eight to 10.
The move was designed to help reduce property crime, after a three-year spike in numbers.
At the time, department officials said the new beats would mean additional officers on the streets, increasing visibility and potentially reducing the chance for criminal activities to occur.
Additionally, with two beats being split into smaller territories, officers would be able to respond more quickly to calls.
Fast forward seven years, and it’s clear the new structure has had an impact. Since 2012, the department has reported significant decreases in property crimes in four of those seven years.
Violent crime remained steady during much of that time but were cut by nearly a third between 2016 and 2017, rising slightly the following year.
Numbers for 2019 were not immediately available.
Precinct Four Cmdr. Keith Freeman said the additional beats, along with the additional officers they bring, has resulted in the reductions.
“More police presence equals less crime,” he said. “Shout it out from the mountaintops.”
Department officials first discussed plans in 2011. Plans were to divide previous beats seven and eight into four zones.
Both territories were essentially split down the middle.
Beat Seven’s previous borders ran from E. County Line Road in the north to Adkins Boulevard, Colonial Circle, North Canton Club Circle and Deer Trail to Foxboro Road to the south.
Beat Eight ran from Adkins, Colonial and Canton Club in the north to Northside Drive, Reddoch Road, Runnymede Road, Old Canton and Westbrook Road to the south.
Today, beat 10 runs from E. County Line to Adkins and Colonial in the south. It is bordered by the Pearl River to the east and Pear Orchard Road to the west..
Beat Seven picks up at Beat 10’s southern boundaries and runs south to Reddoch and Westbrook. East to west, it runs from the Pearl River to I-55 North, a department map shows.
Beat Eight now takes in a small sliver of the northwest side and is runs north to south from East County Line to Hanging Moss Creek. It is bordered by the interstate to the east and North State to the west.
North to south, Beat Nine runs from County Line to Beasley Road/Adkins Boulevard. East to west, it runs from Pear Orchard to the interstate.
Manning the beats is the challenging part. The department has been suffering a shortage of officers for years. Local media reported in April that JPD had 161 officers working beats, about 260 fewer than allowed under city budget.
Last week, Precinct Four had 51 officers working, with six on “modified duty.”
Each beat is typically staffed by one patrol officer per eight-hour shift, meaning 30 officers must be on duty each day.
Freeman said the precinct will fill vacancies by allowing officers to work overtime.
“All the beats are covered most days,” he said.
The department began discussing plans in 2011 at the height of what would eventually be a three-year spike in property crimes on the Northside.
In 2010, more than 2,500 property crimes were reported, a number that dropped to 1,832 the following year, but rose again to 2,071 instances in 2012, police records show.
In 2013, the year after the new beats were implemented, property crimes fell to 1,969, only to pick up the following year, increasing to 2,218.
However, after that spike, the precinct experienced three consecutive years of decreases, with 1,784 property crimes in 2015, 1,584 in 2016 and 1,179 in 2017, documents show. Property crime increased to 1,577 in 2018.
Property crimes include house burglary, auto theft, auto burglaries, business burglaries and cases of grand larceny. Grand larcenies are thefts of property or money valued at $1,000 or more.
After spikes in violent crime in 2013 and 2014, numbers in that category have also fallen. In 2018, 219 violent crimes occurred on the Northside, just slightly more than the 200 that occurred the year prior. Violent crimes totaled 291 in 2016 and 2083 in 2015, reports show.
Violent crimes include murders, carjackings, aggravated assaults and cases of rape. Numbers from 2010 do not include aggravated assaults, meaning the number of crimes that year was actually higher than 326.
Three-hundred and eight violent crimes were reported in 2013, while 316 occurred in 2014.
Precinct Four runs from East County Line Road in the north to Fortification Street in the south. East to west, it runs from the Pearl River to the railroad tracks just west of North State Street.