American Press

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,
(Source: MGN Online)

(Source: MGN Online)

Crime rates up in LC: But higher percentage of cases being solved

Last Modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 10:09 AM

By Marilyn Monroe / American Press

Crime rates in Lake Charles last year were up in almost every category over 2015 figures, but so too were the number of cases cleared, city officials said Wednesday as they issued their annual crime report.

“I think that what you will see is something that we somewhat expected as we go about a lot of the growth and development that’s been occurring,” said Mayor Randy Roach.

Overall, the crime rate went up by 5.3 percent from 9,818 offenses in 2015 to 10,341 in 2016, said Police Chief Don Dixon. He said 3,092 arrests were made in 2016, up 0.6 percent from 2015. But the number of juvenile arrests (221) decreased by 4.3 percent, he said.

Dixon said police responded to 130,060 calls, a 22.6 percent increase over 2015.

“If you just look at that one number and just look at the increase, you think, ‘Wow, there is a lot of activity in the community,’ ” Roach said.

“What I think is significant within that statistic is the fact that most of that comes under the category of what we call self-initiated calls, which means calls that have been initiated by the department. ... It shows that our department and our personnel are being proactive.”

Crimes against people — murder, rape, robbery, assault and battery — increased by 16.6 percent, with 1,871 cases reported in 2016. The clearance rate was 92.7 percent, which Dixon called an “amazing statistic.” The comparable national clearance rate, as of 2015, was only 46 percent.

“That is something for a department to be proud of, as should the citizens of this city,” Dixon said. “That is an astonishing solution rate.”

Dixon said homicides increased by 233 percent, with 10 cases reported last year compared with three in 2015. But the clearance rate for those cases was 100 percent — higher than the 2015 national rate of 61.5 percent.

“In addition to that, we made two arrests in some cold cases, so we actually had arrests in 12 cases last year,” Dixon said. “I believe our highest since I’ve been chief is 19 homicides. I believe that was in 2009.”

He said crimes against property — burglary, larceny, theft and arson — only increased by 1.9 percent, with 4,826 cases reported in 2016. The clearance rate was 40.3 percent — higher than the national rate of 19.4 percent in 2015.

“Those are tough crimes,” Dixon said. “Normally when you solve one, you solve several.”

The category of “other criminal offenses” saw an increase of 4.8 percent, with 3,644 cases in 2016 compared with 3,477 the year before. Police cleared 64.8 percent of them.

Dixon said 68 administrative investigations were conducted last year, a 4.6 percent increase over 2015. “It shows that we try to police ourselves,” he said.

Traffic crashes were down by 0.9 percent, with 4,677 in 2016 compared with 4,719 in 2015. Dixon said he expected the tally to increase and was surprised by the figure.

“I thing part of (the decrease) is because we are proactive,” he said. “We have a lot of overtime details on traffic.”

The number of traffic deaths did increase slightly. Dixon said there were 13 in 2016 compared with 11 in 2015. He said three of them — hit-and-runs — are still unsolved and urged residents to call police, at 491-1311, with any information.

“We still have families out there that need closure,” Dixon said.

The cases: Keith Broussard, 67, was struck on Jan. 7 in the 300 block of First Avenue by a gray or silver truck; Joseph Trahan, 54, was hit on May 24 at La. 14 and Prien Lake Road by a light-colored Cadillac; and Donisha Stroman, 25, was struck Oct. 28 at McNeese Street and South Park Road.

“If you know something, be part of the solution,” Dixon said.

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