By VAN HOLLAND
North Carolina's annual crime index report, released last week by Attorney General Roy Cooper, contained largely good news for Edgecombe County.
Although rates were up in three categories, the majority of rates were down.
Sheriff James Knight credited citizens, who he said were more involved, as well as his deputies' efforts to be more visible in their assigned areas.
"Citizens are becoming more involved in their neighborhoods and are becoming less afraid of calling law enforcement when they see a crime being committed," he said. "I also believe the deputies do an outstanding job when they are out there putting their lives on the line every day."
The overall crime index rate in Edgecombe County is down 94.0 from last year. The 2012 crime index rate is 2,831.2, compared to last year's 2925.2. The statistics listed in Edgecombe County also report the Edgecombe County portion of Rocky Mount.
Violent crime rates in the county were up to 732.6 from 628 in 2011. The three of the four categories considered violent crimes that were up in the county were robbery, rape and assaults. Assaults had the highest increase. In 2011, the assault index rate was 106, rising to 167.6 in 2012. There were no rapes reported in 2011, but there were six in 2012. The robbery index rate jumped 0.7. Also, the county saw a rise in actual number of offenses reported in motor vehicle thefts and aggravated assaults.
Knight believes the economic situation is the main reason the numbers have increased.
"I ask that people become more vigilant of their surroundings by keeping their doors locked, look out for each other and don't be afraid to report a crime," Knight said. "I also believe with citizens reporting more crimes because they are coming out of being afraid is helping. I'm sure if the citizens continue to work with law enforcement in these violent crime areas those rates will come down."
The crime rates in Tarboro all fell from last year, but in Pinetops, there was an increase in the index rate, property crime rate and burglary rate. The index rate rose to 3,851.7 from 3,706.4 last year. Property crime rates rose to 3,415.7 from 2,834.3. Burglary rates rose to 1,235.5 from 799.4. Larcenies and burglaries were the two highest categories that jumped within the town.
Knight believes he will see another decrease next year in the rates, even though his department is short of receiving more manpower.
"We have looked at moving officers around to increase officer visibility," he said. "I believe that having a great working relationship with neighboring agencies has and will also play a role in decreasing crime."
Statewide, the overall crime rate index per 100,000 people decreased by 4.4 percent compared to 2011 and is the lowest it has been since 1976. The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 population rose 0.6 percent, according to reports submitted to the State Bureau of Investigation from local law enforcement agencies. Among the violent crime rates, rape decreased statewide by 1 percent, robbery dropped 3 percent and murder decreased 3.8 percent, while aggravated assault rose 2.4 percent.
Princeville Police Department doesn't participate in the annual crime index rate and doesn't submit info to the SBI. Their numbers aren't added to the county crime index rate for the state or the county, so the numbers may fluctuate if they were added.