HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Police Department released crime statistics during a Monday news conference showing crime is down through the first three-quarters of 2020.
“We have a lot of positive things going on for us in the Hub City from the public safety standpoint," Police Chief Anthony Parker said. “We are at our lowest of Part I crimes in the last five years.”
Part I offenses, which are reported to the FBI under the Uniform Crime Reporting program, include criminal homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson. Overall, the rate of these crimes is down 7% in Hattiesburg compared to this time in 2019.
As of Oct. 1, there have been two fewer homicides in 2020 than there were in the first nine months of 2019, which is a 22% drop.
Residential burglary over that same period is down 49%, and grand larceny is also down 18%.
Though not every crime has seen a decrease since 2019. Aggravated assaults have more than doubled in 2020 with 61 so far, compared to 30 in the first nine months of 2019.
Parker said this increase is a byproduct of the pandemic.
“Police departments all of the country are seeing an uptick in all types of crime because of the situation we’re in right now,” Parker said.
Commercial burglaries have also increased by 42% compared to 2019.
The most common crime in Hattiesburg is auto burglary with 353 to date, the majority of which occurred in situations where the the car was unlocked.
“What’s more disturbing, 75 weapons [were] stolen from these unlocked vehicles, 75. These weapons could potentially be used in a crime,” Assistant Chief Peggy Sealy said.
At Monday’s city workshop, Parker also reiterated the statistics.
Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said she wants to see more programs enacted to lower crime.
“My concern is that we as a city, we have not embraced a policy of investing in programming that could possibly save lives,” Delgado said.
Parker added the department is looking into more programs.
Councilman Nicholas Brown proposed a recreational center for the city as a way to get kids off the streets.
Parker added that he believes aggravated assaults will go down once the virus restrictions are relaxed.