CMPD Chief Kerr Putney painted a mixed picture Wednesday of how his department did in terms of reducing crime in 2017. Putney says overall crime was down by more than 5 percent, but homicides were up 25 percent and rapes increased by 12 percent.
It’s been well reported that homicides were up significantly--from 68 to 85 last year. CMPD Chief Putney says 60 of those cases have been solved. Domestic violence incidents accounted for more than a quarter those homicides. Putney says his officers will be required to take more domestic violence training to better equip them to deal with and prevent these types of incidents. Reported cases of rape increased to 306.
“We believe that in no small part, the reason people are stepping up and reporting these sexual offenses is because of what is going on nationally,” Putney said. “It is becoming a part of who we are as a society to report this kind of thing to hold people accountable. We applaud these sexual assault victims for their courage.”
Putney says other violent crimes and auto thefts were down by nearly 4 percent last year and property crimes and burglaries decreased by about 5 percent.
“What we take solace in is the fact that with that crime reduction, 3,000 fewer people were victimized in 2017 than the year prior, 3,000 fewer families impacted by robbery, car break-ins and having their homes burglarized.” Putney said.
Putney credited some of the crime reductions to his officers getting to know residents better in the communities they patrol. He pointed to initiatives where officers are mentoring and tutoring youths and says it helps that nearly 200,000 residents attended CMPD community engagement functions last year.
Putney made his comments at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in the Lakewood community, just northwest of uptown. That’s where CMPD is expanding one of its new initiatives. Together with non-profit groups and government agencies, the department is trying to reduce crime by focusing on the needs of families. It kicked off last year in the Hidden Valley neighborhood and Putney wants to take it citywide.
“We know if we heal an individual and a family we’re preventing crime. Everybody knows that research demonstrates that if you have mental health issues, lack of education and employment opportunities, and drugs you’re likely to engage in criminal behavior and we want to break the cycle,” Putney said.
Putney repeated his call to stop pointing fingers when it comes to the city’s crime problems. He says it needs to be tackled in ways that go after root causes.