Calhoun County sees decrease in violent crime
by Rachael Brown
rbrown@annistonstar.com
Jul 31, 2013 | 2416 views |  0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Violent crime rates decreased across Calhoun County from 2011 to 2012, but homicides and assaults increased statewide, according to a report released today by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.

In 2011, there were 17 homicides in Calhoun County, according to the report. Two were reported by the Sheriff’s Office, 11 by Anniston police and four by Oxford police. In 2012, there were six homicides countywide, five of them in Anniston and one in Oxford, according to the ACJIC report. Rapes decreased by 35 percent and assaults by 22 percent in Calhoun County in 2012 compared to the numbers in the 2011 version of the report.

Anniston police Chief Shane Denham said he was uncertain what to blame for Anniston’s 11 homicides in 2011 and five last year. Most of the homicides, Denham said, were related to domestic violence incidents.

“It’s almost always a heat-of-the-moment type thing. Stuff that is not preventable,” he said.

Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said he’d like to attribute lower violent crime rates to good police work, juries and judges, but, “We all know it fluctuates.”

Partridge said it was difficult to say what causes crime rates to change from year to year.

Chief Deputy Matthew Wade, of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, agreed with Partridge.

“We’re always thankful for less violence, but it’s hard to say why,” Wade said.

Wade said though statistics show less crime in the county, he would not say it’s decreased the number of calls taken by his office. Wade said the Sheriff’s Office writes around 300 reports and takes around 1,000 calls each month.

“I don’t want to give the perception that crime is down and life is good. There’s still violent crime happening,” he said.

Wade said it’s rare for his office to report more than one or two homicides each year. When a particularly violent crime is reported, Wade said, the focus of each deputy is on that case until it’s solved. The chief deputy said it’s rare to find a heinous crime in rural Calhoun County. “This is not a big city. Those are anomalies for us, and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said.

Law enforcement agencies in Calhoun County reported 136 robberies last year, 14 more than the previous year. In that same time, larceny cases decreased by 282 to a total of 3,682.

Partridge and Denham both believe the slight increase in robberies and thefts in the county are correlated to the use of illegal drugs.

“People have a drug habit that they can’t supply, and they are going to find the means to supply. Usually that means thefts and robberies,” Partridge said.

The ACJIC report noted that the total number of crimes reported statewide decreased by 5 percent in 2012. However, the number of homicides in Alabama has increased by 5 percent, 58 percent of those cases were solved by law enforcement officers.

Violent crimes nationwide increased by 1.2 percent, according to a preliminary report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation detailing crime rates in 2012. The number of reported homicides increased in the U.S. by 1.5 percent, the FBI noted.

“Bad people do bad things. That’s just the way it goes," Denham said. "We just respond to it. There’s almost nothing we can do to prevent things from happening.”

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.

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