Crime rates fall in area

It seems that 2007 is shaping up to be a much safer year than last for Hub City residents and folks in Laurel. 

Hattiesburg police released crime statistics so far for 2007, and you may be surprised at the numbers.

You can blame it on an influx of police officers joining or rejoining the police department or on the new administration. Whatever the case, the numbers are in and crime in the Hub City is down - way down.

"My approach is being aggressive," says acting Chief Frank Misenhelter. "We want to fight crime head-on.  We don't want to put our heads in the sand and say things aren't happening.  We're going to be proactive in our approach and we're going to utilize the citizens in our community to combat those crimes."

In fact the only crimes that are up are rapes and robberies. Rapes are up 14 percent and robberies 51 percent. 

But if you look at the rest of the Part One offenses - or those considered serious crimes - the numbers are down: homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson.

 Misenhelter says police plan on taking a proactive approach to making sure those numbers stay that way.

"We're going to be aggressive fighting crime.  We're going to treat everyone with respect.  But there again, we're going to be very aggressive fighting crime and I think that's the most important thing. I think you have to have a good working environment for the people in the police department.  I encourage our officers to work hard and they've been doing that and reducing the numbers in our overall crime statistics."

So far HPD has made a total of 741 major felony arrests in 2007. That's down 21% from 2006.


Crime down in Laurel

Laurel police released their quarterly crime statistics and the numbers show a steady decrease in criminal activity.

Officials compare April, May and June of this year with the same time last year.  The report shows an overall decrease of 31 percent.  Authorities say that's due to high morale among officers and aggressive patroling along with community members reporting tips. 

Police Chief Walter Martin says the department is working to assure crime statistics continue to fall.

"We all want to shoot for zero crime," he says, "and we may not get that but we're gonna try and get close."

Statistics show crime is down in all categories for the past three months.