JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro Police Department's Office of Administration Tuesday released a report looking at gun-related crimes from the beginning of 2009 to October 15, 2009. The report, which gathers data about the city's 24 gun crimes, will be used to evaluate where police will patrol in the future, according to Police Chief Mike Yates.
"During mid-year, we had a spike in shooting instances and things like that. I wanted to take a comprehensive look at what was going on to get an idea of what the causal factors were," said Yates.
According to Yates, the police department will look at ways of changing manpower to reduce criminal activity. Yates said crimes against other people are down in the city of Jonesboro overall, but crimes with no victims have increased in number drastically.
"We've actually gone down in the traditional crimes, but we take a look at all of them," said Yates.
Most of the crimes were committed in north Jonesboro in police Districts Five and Six.
"It corresponds with a number of people who have moved into Jonesboro from the delta region and we have a number of people who have stayed with us after Hurricane Katrina," said Yates.
According to the report, a large portion of gun crimes were committed against members of the same ethnic group.
"You will find nationwide that there is a tendency to offend within your own racial or ethnic group," said Yates. "People tend to associate and have relationships with people that are like them."
Yates said 30% of all offenders are unknown because people don't cooperate fully with police. They may know the individuals involved, but they shy away from police for fear of retaliation.
"We have this fairly large group of unknowns. We have another fairly large segment that is folks from other places," said Yates. "I want to take another look at that group of unknowns to see if there is some way we can determine a little bit more about that. I think that fairly large section of unknown offenders, where the race, sex and gender is unknown, I think that is probably going to be highly correlated to drug activity or gang activity or both."
"The report that we came out with is a good tool for us to take a look at where our violent acts are happening. What age groups are involved? What groups of people are involved in it," said Yates. "That helps us both try to identify offenders or potential offenders, plus know where to deploy our resources to help reduce that type of thing."
"Police are not going to change a culture that tolerates violence. We have certain pockets in the city that tolerate or is complacent with, drug activity, gang activity and violence," said Yates. "Until the community itself makes a decision and a commitment to change that culture or break that cycle, it's not going to change."
Advocates for change in the north Jonesboro community have expressed their views on how to improve life at many neighborhood meetings. Rev. Dr. Charles Coleman told Region 8 News Wednesday the neighborhood watch has helped reduce the overall crime rate since he's been a resident.
"When I first came here, this place was a mess and I'm not being funny. From here down to Belt and from Word down there," said Coleman. "Now it's so quiet over here at night, it's almost frightening. I'd rather have it that way than to have it any other way."
Coleman, who has lived in north Jonesboro for 18 years, said he's been a victim. Someone broke into his home a few years ago.
"This used to be a crowded, rift-raft party with fighting. My wife and I decided from a spiritual level that we're invested in the community," said Coleman.
Coleman has purchased several properties in Jonesboro. He hopes to rent out those homes to 'good' people.
Coleman said he's appreciative of the police department's move to beef up patrols in his neighborhood; however, he said more people need to get involved to reduce all types of crime.
"I want to be where I can identify. I can see," said Coleman. "Here are iron facts. This is not my mouth. We're not just arresting minorities just to arrest them, but we're doing things to each other that we have no business doing."
"Even though I'm not doing it, I'm still in the minority and I'm still a black person. I'm a man in a black suit," said Coleman. "A lot of them aren't educated, not so much because they can't get an education, but nobody has said, hey, come here. I want to talk to you. You're just as talented as anybody else."
Coleman said he got into plenty of fights when he was a youth. He said the north Jonesboro neighborhood needs the same inspiration he was given at 12-years old.
"If somebody hadn't have stopped me years ago and said hey, you're somebody, you need to do something for yourself," said Coleman. "I'm really surprised that there are a lot of people that don't have human knowledge on how to live and how to treat one another."
"We need other people coming into the hood, setting up workshops, talking about things that are relevant to the community," said Coleman.