Report: City crime is down

Published 7:50 pm Friday, June 22, 2018

Major crime in Vicksburg has declined between 2009 and 2018, according to statistics released Thursday by city officials.

The data was released during a Thursday night public meeting of the city’s Crime Task Force camera/surveillance/data/statistics subcommittee.

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“These are raw numbers,” said city IT director Pamela Newton. “These are not comparisons with other communities or the (FBI) Uniform Crime Report.”

The numbers were presented during a discussion on crime statistics and the city’s surveillance cameras, which have been installed across the city and in the city’s parking garages.

According to a chart provided by the city, reported incidents of major crime in the city as of June 15 totaled 673, as opposed to 2,744 in 2009. In 2017, 1,628 major crime incidents were reported in the city. The only statistic that was higher than 2009 was murder. As of June 15, the city has had five murders compared with 2 in 2009. The highest number of murders was eight in 2015.

Police have made arrests in three of the city’s 2018 homicides. Two of the deaths are unsolved.

“Officers are getting a bad rap for not making arrests, but they are making arrests,” Newton said. She said the problem with comparing the city’s crime figures with other communities is that different departments report crimes differently.

Mayor Georg Flaggs Jr. said he has looked at different crime statistic websites that rank Vicksburg with other Mississippi cities in terms of crimes.

“Some of them are based on per 100,000 people; Vicksburg has 24,000 to 25,000 people,” he said. “One site had Vicksburg’s population at 22,000. That makes a big difference in the numbers.”

He said the city earlier this year hosted a conference on electronic crime reporting with the FBI to show communities how to report crime under a new computerized system.

Deputy police chief Bobby Stewart said presently 26 to 28 cities and 10 counties in Mississippi report crime statistics for the FBI’s Uniform Crime reports. After 2020, he said, all law enforcement agencies will have to report crime statistics to the FBI using a new set of criteria or risk losing federal funds. He said the new reporting system will have uniform definitions for each offense.

In another matter, residents asked if anyone continuously monitored the city’s video cameras. Newton said video from the cameras is sent to the police station and Vicksburg-Warren 911 communications, but no one is continuously monitoring the videos.

“They’re watching, because when a camera goes out, we get a call,” she said. Newton added Police Chief Milton Moore is the only person authorized to access the video system at any time and has an iPad to monitor the information.

She said the video is kept for six months by the IT department, adding all the work with the cameras is done in house. 

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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