New chief working to curb increase in Hub City crime

New chief working to curb increase in Hub City crime

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Crime is up in the Hub City, according to the latest statistics released by the Hattiesburg Police Department.

However, with a new chief in town, those numbers are changing.

"It was an increase in crime still, but the amount of increase was not that much, it was only a 4 percent increase," Hattiesburg Police Lt. Jon Traxler said.

Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker was hired in August 2015, and since then, every category in the department's Part 1 offenses excluding arson decreased.

"Chief Parker arrived in August," Traxler said. "We were at a 12 percent increase at that time, and he made a few changes, a few things were done differently within the department, and we contribute that to the numbers going down."

A closer look at the numbers:

In 2015, the Hub City recorded six homicides, which is a 54 percent decrease. This decrease is coming off 13 homicides in 2014, one of the deadliest years in the city.

"Violent crimes did go down," Traxler said. "One of the things we looked at was what could we do to make changes, and of course when you look at the homicides, there was no pattern to the homicides that we had in 14 compared to 15."

Aggravated assault saw a 29 percent increase, with a total of 31 offenses in 2014, and 24 cases were reported.

Rape increased by 64 percent, with a total of 18 cases, slightly up from 11 that occurred in 2014.

Auto burglary climbed 12 percent, with 463 reported in 2015, from the 412 reported in 2014.

"The majority of our stuff was in the auto burglaries, and probably about 85 to 90 percent of those were left unlocked," Traxler said. "It was something that we stress time and time again to the public, it is a crime of opportunity and that is one thing that makes the numbers go up."

One of the key methods that department officials give the credit to is the COP method, otherwise known as community oriented policing.

"This is something we used to do, and Chief Parker is bringing back to the department, it's about getting out in the community, meeting people, parking and talking to citizens in the neighborhoods and making our presence known," Traxler said.

The department's methods will be able to expand across the Hub City with the addition of new officers from the current academy. The academy has 11 left, and any of those that graduate will be added to the 95 officers on the department's roll.

"We didn't have random acts of violence going on and that's one of the things we want the public to know is, we are out there combating to make sure that random violence doesn't happen," Traxler said. "Majority of the crimes were some type of domestic-related case, whether it was a family member, or even to the extent of knowing that person closely, or even a roommate-type situation."

Traxler added that one of the biggest things that helps the department is help from the community.

"Interaction and tips from the community is one thing that really helps us in any and every case," Traxler said.

If you have any tips for the department or want to interact with officers, Chief Anthony Parker hosts "Coffee With Cops" the first Tuesday of each month at 8 a.m. at Java Werks.

Any information regarding cases you may have contact Hattiesburg Police or Metro Crime Stoppers at 601-582-STOP.