Violent crime numbers in Warner Robins have increased for a second year in a row, and the city's Police Chief says he is concerned.
Jacob Reynolds spoke with Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans on Monday afternoon about the increasing numbers, why he thinks those numbers are going up, and what the WRPD is doing to try and stop it.
In 2016, violent crimes increased for the second year in a row.
From 2015 to 2016, the number of violent crimes jumped by a quarter from 397 to 494. From 2014 to 2015, the number of violent crimes went from 330 to 397.
Those crimes include homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.
In 2015 there were three homicides compared to six in 2016. Reports of rape increased from 28 to 31. Robberies went up from 117 to 143. Finally, aggravated assaults increased from 251 to 314.
Evans said the homicide numbers tend to be cyclical and fluctuate within that same range year after year. He also said a change in reporting standards a few years ago caused rape cases to inflate. Departments now must include any report of rape, or any other crimes, in their final numbers unless they can explicitly disprove the accusation.
Chief Brett Evans also said those increases are partly due to what he calls an increasingly violent society.
“Things are becoming more violent, you know the situation across the United States has changed where people are acting out differently and we're seeing upticks in these particular crimes,” Evans said at the Law Enforcement Center on Watson Boulevard.
According to department numbers, the violent crime rate per 100,000 people went from 541.82 in 2015 to 667.55 in 2016.
Evans also blamed an increase in prescription drug and heroin use.
“As a whole, we're seeing an influx of heroin overdoses and heroin arrests where a few years ago we never saw that,” Evans said.
The Chief said that drug-related crimes were one of the causes of the inflated numbers. He also says criminals are targeting commercial areas and businesses that have high cash flows, especially businesses that have game machines that operate with cash.
Evans says it's been hard to be proactive as his department has not grown with the city.
“If our calls for service are going up, and our self-initiated is going down that means the officers have less time to do those things that are proactive. They've become more reactionary in responding to the crimes instead of being proactive in being out there and trying to deter the crimes from ever happening in the first place,” Evans said.
In 2000, the Department received 59,900 calls for service. Of those 59,900, 39,696 were 911 calls that required an officer response. In 2016, the Department received 82,059 calls for service. Of those 82,059, 62,547 were 911 calls that required an officer response, according to WRPD numbers.
In 2000 Warner Robins police had 117 sworn officers. In 2016 that number was 115. During the same time period, the city’s population grew by roughly 25,000 people, according to the Department.
At the moment, Evans says they are fully staffed in accordance with their budget.
The Chief told WMAZ they are using computer technology more and more to find the hot spot areas of crime in the city. He said the Department was giving that information directly to patrol supervisors and to specialized units that work overtime to try and patrol at-risk areas.
Evans said the Department was also putting more money and technology into the narcotics unit. The narcotics unit also works hand-in-hand with all the other Houston County law enforcement agencies.