The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office released new crime statistics this week to argue against a list recently released by the FBI declaring the city of Leesville as the tenth most dangerous city in the state.
On Thursday, Sheriff Sam Craft released statistics compiled by his office that reflect Vernon Parish ranking below the national average in nearly all major crime categories.
According to Craft, data was collected from 2018 and 2019 violation numbers in Vernon Parish and then compared against national crime statistics from the FBI for 2016, which is the latest year full statistics are available. The data was compared against other cities with a population of 50,000.
The report showed that the national average for crimes such as burglary and robbery were nearly double the numbers than have been seen in Vernon Parish in both 2018 and 2019. The national average rates for murder in 2016 was 3, while Vernon Parish experienced zero murders in 2018, according to Craft’s data, and only one homicide in 2019.
In Dec. 2018, a fatal shooting did occur at a bar in New Llano that claimed the life of one man. However, that death was not declared a homicide as the investigation later showed the victim had actually been the aggressor in an altercation that led up to the shooting.
Other crimes mentioned in the report included larcenytheft and aggravated assault, which also showed lower figures for both years in Vernon Parish versus the national average.
The only crime that Vernon Parish had higher than average numbers was in sex crimes including as rape. For those crimes, Vernon Parish saw 36 incidents in 2018 and 30 incidents in 2019 versus the 2016 national average of 21.
Craft said his intention behind the report was to dispute a list released on Jan. 13 that ranked the top ten most dangerous cities across the state, with Leesville placed in the tenth spot.
“I don’t know who compiled those numbers or how they were compiled, but I felt it was important to provide the parish statistics to show that Vernon Parish as a whole, is below the National Crime Statistics compiled by the FBI. Our issues are not unique to any other area. Overall, Vernon Parish is a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” Craft told the American Press.
The initial list placed Hammond in the top spot of dangerous cities in the state, followed by Opelousas, Alexandria, Marksville, Bastrop, Crowley, Monroe, Walker, and West Monroe just before Leesville.
The list was based upon violent crimes per populations of 100,000, which did not include New Orleans or Shreveport.