Several different variables could impact the crime rate of a city, and some of those variables are beyond the control of the police department, said Conway Police Chief A.J. Gary.
Gordon Ball, a crime analyst at CPD, works to track that detailed information year-over-year for comparison, with the latest numbers released in CPD’s annual report.
Those numbers tell a story of an agency serving a growing municipality with ever-increasing demands.
Investigators worked a total of 2,078 cases in 2012, up nearly 11 percent, and police arrested 4,687 adults and 413 juveniles.
SWAT teams were dispatched 20 times in 2012 for incidents ranging from narcotics search warrants to barricaded suspects.
The Conway Emergency Operations Center reported 62,216 calls for service and more than 32,000 calls to 9-1-1.
Warrants reported a total of 2,104 warrants served and another 2,760 warrants served by other CPD officers. The warrants division also provided 610 transport hours and 138 bailiff hours.
Officers spent 19,827 hours on training in 2012. CPD instructors provided 274 hours of instruction. Two officers were certified as firearms instructors and two officers were certified as law enforcement instructors.
Violent crimes, overall, had no change from 2011 to 2012; and property crimes decreased ten percent, according to the report.
218 violent crimes were reported to the department in 2012, compared to 220 crimes in 2011.
No murders were reported in the city of Conway in 2012, compared to three the prior year. There was a 35 percent increase in rape reports, with 27 reported in 2012 and 20 in 2011.
Conway saw a 2.5 percent decrease in robberies, with 80 reported in 2012, compared to 82 in 2011. Aggravated assaults were down 3.4 percent, with 111 reports filed in 2012 versus 115 in 2011.
Some 2,346 property crimes were reported in 2012, down from 2,616 in 2011.
Among property crimes, there was no reported change in burglaries, with 395 reported in 2012 and 397 in 2011. The department saw a 12 percent decrease in thefts, with 1,849 reported in 2012 and 2,108 in 2011.
Ninety-four motor vehicle thefts were reported, compared to 105 in 2011. The number of arsons reported in 2012 totaled eight, compared to six in 2011, for a decrease of 33 percent.
Department leaders are constantly working on ways to make low numbers lower, Gary said, analyzing data and implementing new programs and strategies within the community.
Geographical policing is one initiative that helps keep crime rates low. Every patrol officer in Conway is assigned to a district in the city, allowing for each individual officer to get to know the area and its populace; and in turn, develop a keen eye for the out-of-place or suspect.
Investigators are also assigned to specific districts.
Once a week, the police chief and staff members meet to discuss incidents reported the previous week. "We can identify hot spots in the city pretty quickly," Gary said. "And if we readily identify an increase in say, burglaries, patrol officers will focus their efforts in those areas."
Through the Conway Community Safety Initiative, police work with the Department of Community Corrections to provide a "last chance" program for recent parolees, probationers and repeat offenders. During group meetings with representatives from local law enforcement agencies, offenders fresh out of prison are instructed on ways in which to succeed outside of a jailhouse setting.
The law enforcement agents also warn them of the repercussions of repeat offenses, as a small group of criminals are often responsible for a majority of crimes. "We want them to be aware that if they continue to break the law, we know who they are, and we will all work together to make sure they go to jail for a long time," Gary said.
Under the initiative, the department works to track the whereabouts of recent parolees and probationers, to compare data in the event of an outbreak of crimes in a concentrated area. "If someone gets out of jail after serving time for burglary charges, then goes home and all of a sudden, there are a rash of burglaries in the area, that can be a clue," Gary said.
Of equal importance in the department’s war on crime is its relationship with the public.
Information obtained by observant citizens is vital to the daily operations of the department. Several cases have been solved as a result of information provided by a citizen, Gary said.
Six new neighborhood watch programs were implemented in 2012. "Community watch programs can be effective," Gary said. "We all know police can’t be everywhere all of the time." Each neighborhood watch program is led by its own members, though police often attend meetings to give crime tips and address concerns in a group setting.
Additionally, CPD offers the services of officers to perform security checks at the request of residents and business owners, offering tips and strategies on how to better secure their homes and businesses; as well as request forms for extra patrol for citizens taking out-of-town trips, or those needing some heightened peace of mind.
The department also offers a free service for citizens to log serial numbers on items in their home, which will allow for the submission of the numbers to a national database in the event they are stolen.
The Text-A-Tip program enables citizens to submit tips under the cloak of anonymity via text message. That information is filtered through a third party provider, and information on the sender could not be retrieved "even if we wanted to," Gary said.
Many of those services are offered to citizens from the convenience of their home via the Internet at www.conwaypd.org.
Gary said he is equally proud of the department’s efforts at thwarting crime and of its citizens for their work in ensuring the vitality and safety of a growing city.
"Absolutely, our men and women patrolling the city are doing a fantastic job," he said. "Overall work ethic is great. They are very aware of their districts and have taken ownership of that. I think our group has done an outstanding job, and the citizens of Conway have done an outstanding job as well."
(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us online at www.thecabin.net.)