HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg recorded the lowest number of homicides in a decade, and city officials are hoping to continue that downward trend into the new year.
In 2017 the city recorded three homicides, according to Hattiesburg crime statistics. The number is a decrease from 2016, which saw eight homicides. The last time the Hub City recorded less than three homicides was in 2007, when just two were recorded.
"Obviously we are encouraged by this downward trend in the number of homicides in our community, I think it's important to also say that one is too many," Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said. "What we want to do in 2018 is do everything we can do as a city, as a police department, as a community, to make sure that we see violent crime as well as property crime be the lowest as it can be."
Hattiesburg Police Capt. Branden McLemore said the majority of the credit goes to the men and women of the police department.
"We can basically contribute that to extra patrol in certain areas, we've took a strong stance on our gang shootings, quickly putting those people in jail and behind bars," said McLemore.
McLemore said getting a handle on shootings before they lead to a person being injured has been crucial.
"As far as the violent offenses, your gang shootings, your aggravated assaults…we still have our aggravated assaults," McLemore said. "However, we try to get on those initial shootings before it actually contributes to something like it has in the past, which ends up being four to five shootings and we end up going to work a homicide."
Barker said he is pushing for stronger community involvement to help curb the violence and crimes.
"We need out entire community to be involved in our school system, mentoring kids so they're not looking for alternatives that are dangerous, and as a community, reporting crimes when they happen, watching out for neighbors, these are all things that make us a safe city," Barker said.
"Well each year it changes, domestic relationships, our community involvement, we can't predict crime," McLemore said. "We try to, we try to use our resources and place those resources in those areas, especially if it's something that we can combat. Domestic violence, that's a hard thing to battle; however, we have been, with our domestic violence unit, they have been getting more involved following up with just the rare situations where if we know domestic issues occur, we try to get into that family atmosphere to see if we can't try to prevent some of those things to turning to homicides."
Barker also gave kudos to the department, and specifically the domestic violence unit.
"Their efforts in not only suppressing violent crime before it happens, but also being active in domestic violence prevention have really helped the situation as well," said Barker. "I will say in 2018, it's going to take a community-wide effort to make us that safest city in the Gulf South."
"There's not bragging rights to any of it," McLemore said. "We wish we could banish all violent offenses, but anything we can do to help contribute to a lower number we are very proud of and will continue to combat those."
8-5-17— Cordaeil Miller, 26
Arrested: Jonicqua Moffett, 20 (girlfriend)
Location: 900 block of Dabbs Street
9-24-17— Justin Woodland, 17
Arrested: No arrest, pending grand jury for home invasion
Classification: Home invasion
Location: Orange Street
11-29-17— Bobby Gwin, 25
Arrested: Allen Russell, 34
Location: 900 Broadway Drive, Deluxe Inn